Needing a broader canvas

There is a new tidbit on the Adoption Page of the society’s website titled “Dollars and Sense”?  that compares veterinary costs with the price of the adoption fee.    No question about it … it outlines a very logical argument for pet adoption.
As a sidebar note to that, its a shame that couldn’t be stapled to every mailbox in the province. Why do I say that?  At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, based on my own site stats and current adoption stats from the society and the private groups, the majority of Nova Scotia residents still don’t go anywhere near the animal welfare group websites.
But I don’t want to wander afield here tonight.   Nor, in all fairness, do I want to focus on the society with this either.  In truth .. this is not a new argument for pet adoption and at some point in time virtually every animal rescue group and shelter has pointed out the obvious financial benefits to pet adoption.
Its a logical argument as long as the underscoring premise is valid …that all pet owners are going to provide responsible pet care for their pets.  Sadly, we know that’s not so when every month of the year still seems to be kitten and puppy season on the free online ad sites
As a natural corollary to that, the free sites are brimming with ads for unaltered pets whose owners mysteriously no longer “have the time for”.   (the sad subject of how many pets are passed around like old socks because their humans did NOT train them and then were unwilling to live with the untrained pet is another topic needing its own post on another day.)
For something as emotional as bringing home a pet, logic might not be the thing to carry the day.    If logic had anything to do with it,  families with busy schedules would understand they might not have time to meet the exercise needs of that appealing puppy with those adorable big feet.   The nesting newlyweds would discuss their feelings about pets and children BEFORE filling the house up with wonderful furkids.  Students intelligent enough to get into university would remember their parents are only expecting them to bring home dirty laundry.
But whether it is infatuation or true love, logic hasn’t got a whole lot to do with it, eh?
Have you ever noticed how many commercials focus on the Baby Boomers?   What is the common thread running through?   Do they appeal to logic?  Or do they promote the idea that this was a generation that marched to its own beat? 
Why do they do that?  Because it works, is why.  From financial planning to hair dye it works.  Baby Boomers may have outgrown their bell bottoms have never outgrown the need to be different than their parents.    One of the hallmarks of this group is their sense of social responsibility.
Spay/neuter and pet adoption should be presented in the same light as buying a fuel efficient car.  No one buys the car because its sensible.   They buy it because they are proud of being environmentally responsible.   The commercials didn’t scold them … or imply they were horrible car owners because their last car had a cloud of smoke that would do any politician proud. 
Nor did any commercial go on about the cost of car ownership.  Nope .. they simply assume that that people are going to get a car and don’t try to talk them out of THAT.  Instead they focus on getting folks to buy THEIR car.
People are going to get the pet … and since logic just hasn’t been enough motivation for first time potential pet adopters to dip their toes in the water, perhaps its time to appeal to one of the unsung rewards of pet adoption … the sure knowledge that the adopter is saving a pets life.    
As repugnant as it might sound to some, animal rescue has to be as good at promoting themselves to the public as they are at saving the animals.
Or to paraphrase Nathan Winograd ” Do a good job and tell everyone about it”  What is the best way to do that?   And no …before the keyboards catch on fire, I am not suggesting sacrificing big chunks of the budgets for publicity. 
What is the single thing that sells the animals the best?  Why the animals themselves of course.  At the risk of sounding like a stuck record … off site adoptions are so effective because they get the animals ( and the message )out to the people. 
Its important to remember how many misconceptions still exist about No Kill.  When rescue organizations refer to themselves as No Kill, some folks don’t think that ANY animals are in danger.  Gee whiz … nobody’s killing them, eh?
There is no sense of urgency because the group and the shelter stats only paint part of the picture …. and never include all those who do NOT find room at the inn.
A friend of mine once told me that for every dog she can accept .. there are another dozen waiting in the wings (hopefully, but sadly not always ) until she has room.  That would indicate that shelter stats are really only the tip of the iceberg …. great to measure individual performance but not very good at painting the big picture.
How to get THAT message across?  if scolding and logic and nicely designed websites haven’t been working, why not try “fun” instead.   Why not a “Christmas in July” fun weekend for the animals?  Its a traditionally slow time for pet adoption and might just be the ticket to turn that around.
Its important to remember that the ‘real statistics’ are the ones we’ll never see in print … Animal Control, the owners bringing in their own pets into the vets for Unhappy Tails and sadder still the countless ones who do not live to tell the tail when they are abandoned / drowned and/ or shot
What time is it?  Its time to switch gears and paint the big picture on a broader canvas.

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