Marketing Hard to Place Dogs

Animal Aid Inc.

A finalist in the 2008 Maddie’s Fund Marketing Competition, submitted by Tamera Gibson, Managing Director, Animal Aid Inc., Oakland Park, Fla.


Animal Aid only gets involved in emergencies–80% of all new intakes are considered “hard to place” for various reasons. We are always working to create opportunities to promote and get exposure for these “hard to place” dogs (and cats) such as an older dog or cat, a blind and/or deaf dog or cat, or the larger mixed breed dogs (especially the black ones). We place an average of 40 dogs per month and, of those, 30 are classified as “hard to place.”

Each of our rescued cats and dogs is placed on national online adoption sites, such as Petfinder with a short bio and some with a video clip. We also place their bios and photos on Pets911, petsunlimited and 1-800-save-a-pet.

We have a section on our Web site for Special Needs, featured dog or cat, and a “click here for animals that need you now” page, listing some of the emergencies that Animal Aid rescued that month.

An abused cat or dog may have trouble trusting people right away–we place them (and all dogs) with a free training lesson. We will soon be offering Cesar Milan’s books and tapes.

An injured animal may be missing a leg or an eye–we give them (and all cats and dogs) pet insurance to cover emergencies.

A neglected cat or dog may need many or all of his/her teeth removed and or shaved down completely–we offer them (and all dogs) free first grooming and 13 grooms for life.

An older dog confiscated from a home after his/her human has passed away–we offer discounted lifetime joint and arthritis medications.

We also have those that are large mixed breed or all black dogs that are often overlooked for more colorful ones. Black dogs wear a colorful bandana and get white blankets to accent their color. We offer these (and all dogs) a bright-colored matching leash and collar set.

We have regular shows through Comcast on-demand for the special needs; we feature dogs with no teeth, bullets in their back, etc.) as well as the larger, mixed breed dogs.

Miami Animal Planet films and follows some of the fighting dogs or abuse cases taken out of Miami/Dade, giving them exposure and “fame.”

NEW – The “dog of month” is the dog that has been at the shelter the longest (usually three or four months). This lucky dog will be featured in the local paper, and the adopter will receive a denim leash-and-collar set as well as a portrait drawn by a local artist of that dog/cat.

NEW – Many local downtown restaurants have outdoor caf-style seating and will allow patrons to bring their dog to dinner with them. One of our volunteers will take a homeless dog to dinner, with the dog wearing a custom dog T-shirt that says “adopt-me” while at these restaurants, and invite people to come to the shelter to fill out an application.

NEW – We have two local dog beaches and many dog parks. Volunteers take a rescued dog on an outing with the dog wearing the “adopt- me” T-shirt. The volunteer will hand out business cards to anyone interested and invite them come to the shelter to fill out an application, if they are interested.

These marketing strategies are only possible thanks to our wonderful group of dedicated volunteers.

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