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Marketing Special Pets through Videos

Elaine Harris


A winning program in the 2007 Maddies Fund Marketing Competition submitted by Pom Rescue.

I began a small dog rescue over three years ago. We mainly rescue the special need Pomeranians. These include: the blind, the toothless, the deaf, the crippled, the fur challenged, those with chronic health problems, the puppy mill rescued and seniors. I take in the Pomeranians that no one else wants. Some of my first rescues were actually so bad that they were wheeled out to me in a grocery cart because no one wanted to even touch them. As you can imagine, placing these special needs dogs can be a challenge, but I knew it could be done. There just had to be others out there that would love these little fellows as I did.

To start with, I began photographing our rescues when they first came in and posting the before and after pictures on my Web site. Then as I became more familiar with my digital camcorder, I began to videotape from their first arrival to the point when they were adopted. Sometimes we even videotaped parts of the journeys we made to pick them up from the shelters.

I learned how to post the videos online and then embed the links to my Web site. Nice folks began to take notice and donated to help in the progress of our rescues. They were excited to see the rescued dogs change so much for the better.

In June of 2006 I began putting videos of our adoptables on Then I embedded the videos in the pages of the and my own Web site. My adoption times shortened incredibly! The emails flooded in.

It was so phenomenal that I suggested to my Chihuahua rescue friend that she try it. I would take my camera over to her place and take the videos and post them for her. Her adoption times were amazingly short also. It really worked!

I became so excited that I wanted to tell everybody about using videos, so I sent out emails to the rescue community. I shared links to our videos and explained how it had positively affected our adoption times.

Later, my sister, Melinda McMillion, and I noticed that our local Humane Society was having trouble posting photos and descriptions on their Web pages. In our excitement over the video success, we began to ponder how we could help them raise their adoption stats.

We thought it would be a real help if we volunteered to do photos, descriptions and videos of the animals. At first our offer was met with skepticism. We were given the opportunity to cover ten of the hardest to place dogs per week on a month trial period. The HS had certain criteria that had to be met, such as filming the dogs playing outside rather than in the kennels and not mentioning the possibility of euthanasia. We were told that it was to be an upbeat venture.

Since May 2007 the euthanasia rates of the more difficult to place dogs have decreased to 16.5% in October 2007. In other words, out of the 200 dogs we featured for the shelter, 167 dogs are still alive (83.5%) and only 33 were euthanized.

We believe that the morale of the employees at the Humane Society has been affected by the increase in adoptions and now they have made it a happier place for them to work. There have been many upbeat changes in our local shelter and we are so proud of them!

I visited another local shelter and took videos and pictures for them. I uploaded them to and then sent the shelter the links to embed in their site and links to email to interested people. They were very excited and may be considering a video camera in the future. I would like to continue to visit many of the shelters in our area and teach them how to use these extremely important tools.

My goal now is to go mobile. I started the Dot Mobi site at I believe that being able to view the adoption information and pictures from cell phones will be another cutting edge idea that will result in more adoptions.

This is an outreach to those people that are on the move. Cell phone prices are dropping and features improving so much that many more people will have Internet-enabled cell phones. This should make searching the adoptable animals even easier and more convenient. The potential for growth and outreach in this area is tremendous. This is a previously untapped market because the technology is just now available! MySpace has just announced they have started their Moblogs, and I feel that the public will follow this trend.

If we should be so blessed as to receive some of Maddies Fund, we would like to use some of the funds to replace a five-year-old desktop computer and video camera that are just about worn out. The better equipment will take and produce sharper, clearer videos. In order to produce the videos, we must have a huge hard drive on a computer for video rendering and storage, and they are rather expensive. Right now we must limit each pet to two minutes of video so that we dont jam up the current hard drive. As soon as I upload the video to YouTube I delete the video file from my PC in order to make room for the next one.

We would also like for to have a cell phone that would allow us to view our Mobi site. We are currently using a hand-me-down phone. Please consider us a candidate for Maddies Fund. I can promise you personally that we would use the funds wisely and not one dime would be wasted!

The Maddies Fund Marketing Competition was for members, and the purpose was to find effective marketing strategies for adopting hard to place dogs and cats.

The Maddie’s Fund mission and purpose is to help the nation’s most needy dogs and cats that, for one reason or another, have ended up in animal shelters. Established in 1999, the foundation awards millions of dollars through grants to animal welfare coalitions to end the killing of healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats.

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