When you maintain an active interest in animal welfare issues, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by negative news, or to assume that your contributions don’t have a big enough impact. But that’s not true! In honor of this month’s MUTTS Manifesto “To be a positive force,” we’re sharing some uplifting facts about all the good that’s happening in the world of animal rescue, plus tips on how you can continue to help!
For an insider’s view, we spoke with Katy Hansen, Marketing & Communications Manager at Animal Care Centers of NYC. As New York City’s only open-admission shelter, ACC has never turned away a single animal—regardless of health, age, temperament, or even species—and has an annual intake of around 34,000 animals. “Last year our placement rate was 84%,” says Katy. “And for the first half of 2016, we’re at over 90%, one of the highest in the nation for a shelter of our size, and that’s a pretty big deal.”
We asked Katy about why so many people are choosing adoption, not only in New York but all across the country. Here’s what we learned.
- Opinions about animal shelters are changing—for the better!
“This isn’t your grandfather’s pound anymore,” Katy explains. ACC, like so many other shelters around the country, has implemented plenty of visitor-friendly features (such as Bunny Speed Dating) to attract potential adopters. “Instead of people fearing coming to a shelter based on preconceived notions about what a ‘pound’ is, they’re starting to see that we’re filled with compassionate staff and tons of great volunteers, and our animals are well cared for.”
- Animal advocates are passionate about spreading their love for shelters.
Thanks to social media, volunteers and rescuers are more vocal than ever about their love for shelters. This is important, because word-of-mouth marketing is the best kind of press a shelter can get. It drives real people through the doors to adopt real animals who need homes. It’s life-saving. Even a positive review on Yelp or a nice comment on Facebook can do wonders for boosting the reputation of your local shelter, Katy explains.
- Shopping for animals is the new faux pas.
Adopting isn’t just better than shopping; it’s also becoming more popular and socially acceptable. “There are so many articles now about puppies from puppy mills,” says Katy. “Word is getting out.” Many major cities across the country—including Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles—have even banned sales of commercially bred cats and dogs, and instead require pet stores to work with rescue groups to help customers adopt pets.
- Shelters are changing for animals, too.
An increase in adoption awareness means that many shelters now have the funds and support to implement programs that improve conditions for the animals themselves. For example, with help from partners and donors, ACC is able to maintain its Behavioral and Enrichment team, plus important programs like Dogs Playing for Life, which allows dogs to play unleashed in a fun, safe environment. Of course, ACC is just one of many shelters throughout the country whose animals benefit from local community support. Which means …
- Everyone can help shelter animals.
“Every single shelter needs the same thing,” Katy explains. “They need people to come in and play with the animals, to touch them and make them feel loved. They need basic amenities: towels, sheets, blankets in the wintertime, shredded paper. Even if you can’t adopt, maybe you can foster, which is completely life-saving. Maybe you’re a great photographer, or simply have an iPhone, which can take great pictures and videos. You can share the animals on social media. It’s really endless. Everything you can imagine your pet wants, a shelter pet wants, too.”
Want to make a difference? Contact your local shelter today to find out how you can help animals in your own community!
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