"This is one of the best things that's ever happened to animal welfare," said Maddie's Fund President Rich Avanzino. "I truly believe this campaign has the potential to end the killing of healthy and treatable shelter pets nationally."
An international advertising agency, DRAFTFCB, who is designing this campaign, began with research and their numbers are fascinating. There are pro-adoption people, who would only adopt, and pro-breeder people, who would only buy from a breeder. The biggest group, however, are the "swing voters" who could go either way. Out of this group, 17 million will be getting a new pet next year. The current estimation of how many healthy and treatable pets that are dying in shelters is 3 million per year. Only 25% of this "swing voter" group needs to be convinced to get a shelter pet.
According to their research, there are two obstacles that must be overcome to convince this 25% to adopt instead of buy.
The first is that all shelter pets are "damaged goods", which I'm sure that everyone reading this knows isn't true. Thanks to this huge campaign by the Ad Council, this misconception is sure to be changing soon.
The second is that many people think shelters are depressing prisons. APA!'s model is built around this common perception. Adopting a pet should be a happy, exuberant time for families. We take the pets to the public, instead of expecting the public to come to us, and it's working.
There is still so much work to do. And there isn't one simple solution to the problem, but we do have roadmaps for us from other communities who have become no kill. Austin now has most of the pieces in place to become no kill, but there's still a lot of work to do to get there.
Certainly, though, tens of millions of advertising for shelter pets is going to help us get there even faster.