Marketing Your Dogs

56 Days in a Shelter! Who Will Let Avery Out?

Pick a dog who is one of the longest shelter residents and create a Who Will Let (name of dog) Out campaign. Each day feature a cute photo or video highlighting a different characteristic showing why the dog would make a wonderful loving companion. Encourage supporters to share the campaign on social media, empowering them to help find a forever home for your longtime resident. Here’s a great example of a  touching video promoting puppy Taza who was stressed while living at the Onslow County Animal Services shelter in North Carolina.

Become a PetSmart Shelter Partner

The PetSmart Charities Foundation partners with local shelters and rescues to help homeless animals. PetSmart stores throughout the country donate space to help adoptable pets find loving homes. According to the nonprofit, every 38 seconds a PetSmart store is open a pet is adopted.

Celebrate Animals with Special Days

You don’t have to wait for national pet holidays to celebrate animals. For example, the Animal Harbor shelter, TN declared the last Sunday of September as Senior Sunday. This helped highlight the older animals at the shelter while informing the public about how these loving pets get overlooked just because of their age. Feel Good Friday is celebrated at the Butler County Animal Shelter, KY as a way for supporters to share happily ever after stories helping to encourage others to adopt shelter pets. The clever use of alliterations can really help catch attention on social media.

Create a Matchmaking Survey

A Matchmaking Survey is a great way to discover what potential adopters are looking for in their next pet. The survey should include questions about temperament, energy level, age, size, social ability, etc. Structure it like a dating app. After potential adopters complete the survey, suggest possible ‘dates.’

Dog of the Day

Choose a dog to highlight and write a post to social media with a cute photo and write from the dog’s perspective – why they want to be adopted, their best features, their ‘areas for self-improvement’ (or something to that effect).

Doggie Day Out

Work with local businesses to host an adoptable dog for a day. Provide them with crate, treats, toys, etc., so the dog can spend the day with them.
Banks, offices, stores, and anywhere that a dog would be welcome is a possibility. This gives dog (and shelter) exposure, builds your relationship with the business community, gives the business something fun to use in their own marketing. Gives the dog a break from the stress of being in the shelter. Such a win-win-win.

Encourage Adopters to Promote Shelter Pets

One of the best ways to promote pet adoption is to ask adopters to post pictures of their newest family members on social media. Sharing photos and stories about how well rescue dogs are settling into their new homes is a wonderful way to inspire others to visit the local shelter rather than purchasing dogs from breeders.

Enroll Your Shelter in the Blue Buffalo Home 4 the Holidays Campaign

According to the Blue Buffalo company, more families bring a new pet home during the holiday season than at any other time of the year. Home 4 the Holidays is a three-month adoption drive that saves the lives of homeless animals and raises awareness about the importance of pet adoption during the holiday season. This campaign is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of choosing pet adoption over supporting puppy mills and backyard breeders.

Benefits of registering your shelter with the Blue Buffalo Home 4 the Holidays campaign include:

  • A chance to win $1,000 when you encourage adopters to share a heartwarming story about their new pet.
  • A chance to win $25,000 for your organization through the Home 4 the Holidays Media Award.
  • Access to free adoption marketing resources and media plans for the holiday season.
  • By participating in Home 4 the Holidays, your shelter or rescue group will be listed on a map for potential new pet parents looking to easily locate their local shelter.
  • Once you’ve registered, visitors to will be able to find your organization and donate to the campaign! 100% of funds raised through your member page will go directly to you.

Shelters can register online to become a Home 4 the Holidays partner.

Highlight Dogs in a Fun Way

Animal lovers appreciate cute dog pics and these pics are also a great way to find new homes for shelter dogs. Redland Rock Pit Abandoned Dog Project group, FL had the wonderful idea of featuring a Silly Dog Sunday collage of their dogs being goofy, funny, and playful. You could also launch a Funny Dog Friday and feature a similar roundup of wonderful images. Enlist the help of a local photographer or a volunteer who is good with the camera and start snapping. Be sure the images are clickable and take potential adopters to information about each dog.

Highlight Sponsored Animals

If the adoption fees for certain pets have been sponsored, be sure to highlight that along with cute images of the animals on social media. This may just help to find loving homes for your longest residents.

Hold a Senior Prom

Memphis Animal Services, TN held a senior prom to shine a spotlight on senior shelter dogs available for adoption. The dogs were glammed up and took part in prom photoshoots. The public was invited to dress up and attend the prom that was held in one of the shelter’s play yards. The dogs enjoyed a special doggy cake and participants had fun voting for a prom king and queen. This was a terrific fun way to gain exposure for the golden oldies who are so often overlooked at the shelter.

Host an Earth Day Adoption Event

Invite the public to a special adoption event and offer discounts on the adoption fee for all who donate recycled items such as newspapers, towels, and blankets that can be used in the shelter. Alternatively, you can take shelter dogs to local Earth Day festivities and expose them to even more potential adopters. It also offers an opportunity to spread the word about the work you are doing at the shelter to save lives.

Host a Pit bulls and Pizza Party

Host a Pit bulls and Pizza fundraising and awareness event either at a pizza place (without dogs but with lots of infographics, pictures, videos, etc.) or possibly at the shelter with pizza followed by a parade of pit bulls.

Join in Best Friend’s National Adoption Weekend

By becoming a Best Friends Network Partner your shelter can join in the Best Friend’s annual National Adoption Weekend that’s held June 30 through July 2. Participating shelters reduce or waive adoption fees during the three-day event to find forever homes for shelter pets in time for the July 4 Holiday.

Let Adopters Promote the Shelter

When adopters provide positive feedback on their adoption experience ask if they would be willing to share their experience on video. Posting this feedback on social media is a great way to encourage others to visit the shelter and adopt a new best friend.

List Animals on

Partner with and start uploading shelter pets to the Pet Adoption Portal. The site has a more extensive reach than Petfinder and Adopt a Pet. However, you can continue having your animals listed on all of these websites.  Listing homeless pets on all of the major adoption sites offers greater exposure and helps to result in a forever home.

Live on Friday

Feature a weekly social media live walk-through of the shelter each week. Showcase dogs, interview staff, give details of upcoming events, even do a giveaway of a T-shirt or pet item to a random person who comments during your live coverage.

Local Leaders Can Help with Adoptions

Schedule photo shoots of shelter dogs with firefighters, police officers, or local elected officials. This is a great way to promote the dogs while also engaging the community. This also offers a wonderful opportunity to get newspaper or TV coverage and may lead to more potential adopters visiting the shelter.

Participate in Tractor Supply Pet Appreciation Week

Partner with your local Tractor Supply to participate in the company’s annual Pet Appreciation Week Adoption Event. The retail chain also hosts shelter fundraisers and sponsors holiday events such as pet photo shoots with Santa to benefit local animal shelters.

Partner With a Local Business

Finding a local business that supports animal welfare is the first step to running a large off-site adoption event. This is a great way for shelter dogs to gain more exposure and hopefully new homes. For example, Onslow County Animal Services, NC holds its largest adoption event of the year in partnership with a local Toyota dealership. This is a full-day event held at the dealership and all of the dogs available for adoption are in attendance. The event is promoted and shared on social media helping to ensure the dogs get as much exposure as possible.