Our local animal shelter is full.
Many of our local animal welfare organizations are overwhelmed.
For the good of our community and the good of these animals, we need to do something.
I had an idea that I thought would at least give local adoptable animals a little more exposure.
I probably should have passed it through our county officials and the people at PAWS before writing this column, but I didn’t. I hope you’re OK.
One of the issues that the folks at PAWS (as well as other organizations) face is that while many animals are lovable, intelligent, and very adoptable, it is difficult to show it to the public. They try to take pictures of happy animals, but often these animals are scared and lonely or they are depressed and most of the time we end up seeing pictures of them behind a kennel door. There isn’t much they can do about it. The PAWS staff do their best, but they have a LOT to do and a lot of animals to care for.
I thought maybe we could start a local social media campaign where we try to show animals at their best. We are flooding social media with adoptable Roman animals photographed with people – ideally, well-known and respected people. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I just thought it would put these animals in a better context to see them next to smiling people of all sizes, ages, races, and backgrounds.
This would do several things:
1. It would give the animals a bit more interaction with the audience. It helps them socialize (safely, of course) so that they’re hopefully a little happier and maybe a little more comforted.
2. It might give people a better idea of what this dog might look like if adopted, for example, by an older adult or by a young athletic person or by a family with young children. Sure, the photos can’t really tell what an animal will look like, but at least it gets people thinking … hmm, it looks like a good sized dog for my mom to have in her apartment. Or … this dog looks young and energetic, perfect for hiking and camping. Or … this cat doesn’t seem to care about being held and cuddled.
3. Just having more people at the shelter interacting with the animals MAY increase the likelihood that one of those people will want to adopt an animal that they see there. They were just there to be photographed with a cat but fell in love with a kitten while they were there.
4. The more we are photographed with animals, the more likely it is that these people will share these posts on social media. And their friends and family will share these photos. This could lead to thousands upon thousands of views of that single post, increasing the likelihood that someone somewhere could have a home for that dog or cat in the photo.
5. As someone who cares about animal welfare issues, I have seen (and shared) so many photos of shelters where animals are right inside a kennel and appear scared or shy. I know it’s only because they’re in this place. But a lot of people bypass these photos because the animals don’t look “funny” and “adorable”. Well, it’s hard to be happy when the family you loved have abandoned you and now you’re in a lonely kennel all day. Hopefully, “Picture Day” could possibly make the pets look a bit brighter and maybe wag their tails a bit.
There are so many animals in our shelter (and so many others that are abandoned) that we need to help relieve them. One long term solution is to make sure we spay and neuter our animals, but that’s another conversation for another time. Right now we need to get the animals out of these kennels. Many have been there for weeks or even months. This is no way for an animal to live.
The Rome News-Tribune (which is sometimes kind enough to accompany my crazy projects) has agreed to publish full pages of these photos when we receive them. And of course to share them on our social media platforms.
We could start with a ‘photo day’ and try to photograph as many animals in the shelter as possible. If we see success after this initial effort, we’ll decide whether it’s worth doing it every few months or just whenever there’s an unusually high need for visibility.
I imagine local doctors, teachers, law enforcement officers, business leaders, first responders, lawyers, city and county officials, all lined up on “Photo Day” to be photographed with adoptable animals. And then these images are shared on social networks.
Of course, all of this assumes that county officials and our local shelter staff would be okay with this. But it might work in other animal welfare organizations as well. Set a day and time for the photos, invite the people you want to photograph with the animals, and have one or more photographers available to take the photos outside (or in a nice setting if the animals are to be kept outside). interior). Then post the photos with as much information as possible about each animal. Someone out there might see and fall in love with that basset hound or chihuahua mix that’s been at the shelter for weeks, or those kittens that were left on the doorstep in a cardboard box.
I don’t know if this will lead to more foster families and adoptions. But I know we have to do something. The wonderful animals at our local shelter won’t magically find a home on their own. We have to help them.
Severo Avila is editor-in-chief for the Rome News-Tribune.