End Petlessness

Oregon Humane Society

A $20,000 winner in the 2008 Maddie’s Fund Marketing Competition; submitted by Oregon Humane Society, Portland, Ore.


Last year the Oregon Humane Society found homes for 2,544 hard-to-place pets who were more than nine years old, black or with special medical or behavioral needs. These were 28% of the OHS success stories for the year. Our award-winning marketing campaign to End Petlessness embodies our organizations realization that we could stop underestimating the compassion of our community.

Every dog, cat or small animal who comes to OHS has one special need in common: to find a loving forever home. All departments collaborate to produce outstanding results. Last year OHS placed 99% of dogs and 93% of cats who came to us. This year, the OHS Board has committed to a policy formalizing our organizations longstanding practice: no euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals. From admission to adoption and beyond, OHS is dedicated to ensuring the best outcome for each animal in our care.

Media outreach includes newspaper Pet of the Week and Comcast Pets on Demand. Special needs pets have their own section on our Web site, which receives over 5,000 page views each month. Volunteer photographers create professional portraits of our longest residents, the Great 8 dogs and Nine Lives cats. These portraits are shown in high-traffic gallery settings to elevate and enlarge the circle of compassion around these pets as well as providing elegant images of these pets for shelter use.

Press releases highlight holiday marketing promotions for special needs pets a Valentine promotion, our current Howlin for Halloweeen 31% discount on black or orange animals, and Novembers Black Friday after Thanksgiving, when we offer a 20% discount on black pets. The Black Friday promotion has brought 1,700 people to OHS and boosted adoptions by 40% more than a typical three-day weekend. That weekend 125 pets found homes, 41 of them with special needs.

Each pet who comes to OHS has a story [and] all OHS departments, both staff and volunteers, work together to ensure a good outcome for animals who most need our care. When Terra came in, she was unpredictable and reactive around other dogs. She had a nasal discharge, diminished eyesight, and potty-training issues. After nine months of work by Training, Animal Care, Medical Team, Foster Care and Marketing, Terra went home on September 10. The next day we received this message from Terras new family:

Good Morning Girls, I know you thought of Terra all evening. So, I thought I’d ease your mind. I knew when we left with her, it was hard to let her go. Dogs and their humans, it’s a strong bond….Terra had a good nights sleep. She ate great this morning. And after the kids had to go on their way, Oscar and I took her for a walk. After she had a big bowl of water, I took the opportunity to brush her. She did just fine. She and Oscar are out in the back as we speak. She seems to love being outside. Thank you so much for the chance to love her and take care of her.

It was a team effort to sav

e Terras life and thousands like her. We are especially proud that Terras story was told to the right people, in the right way, so that she finally found her forever home. We invite your favorable review of our application, so that we may continue and enhance our efforts on behalf of special needs pets and the people who love them.

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