How it’s Being Done, Brilliantly: Calgary Humane Society Applies a Little Peer Pressure

Calgary Animal Shelter Loves Their Rescue Shepherd, Tova

Recreate this photo, using lots and lots of people and that ONE, SINGLE DOG you’ve been trying to home!

One week after this photo was posted by Calgary Humane Society, Tova the shepherd was adopted.

And I wonder: is it easier to be a hero if everybody’s watching?  Do dogs that get that extra notice from a lot of people get adopted more quickly?  Or to put it another way, do we want to help more, if we know the thing we’re doing will be noticed for the good deed that it is?

This picture says to me, Here are all the good people who will sleep easier at night knowing Tova is home.

Calgary Humane Society’s Marketing and Social Media Coordinator Shandell Van Hell seemed to know this intuitively when she posed shelter staff and volunteers around Tova:

"It wasn't hard to get everyone gathered -- I just sent an all staff email
asking staff to join us for a photograph with Tova for our website and 
social media avenues.  At that point, staff would have done pretty much 
anything I asked of them if it meant getting Tova adopted!"

She shot the photo purposely leaving a nice clean background (the brick wall) where she could drop in giant text afterwards.  And who wouldn’t love that group picture?  It shows the staff of a shelter that looks fun and welcoming.  The precise opposite of the “territorial” shelter.  The picture went up on the Calgary Humane Society Facebook page.

By involving as many people as possible in this photo, she gives Tova’s social media marketing campaign an added boost: if there are thirty people in a photo, that’s thirty people who might post this picture to their Facebook page, Twitter feed, Pinterest page or blog (I know I did!).  That’s the chance for thirty more exposures to their friends.  (This group picture was shared 247 times).

Tova was adopted from Calgary Humane Society.

Adopted! Tova leaves Calgary Humane Society. Is it any surprise? This picture was posted on Facebook with the message: “Last night, just one day shy of the 300 mark, we finally matched Tova with her forever family. Last night, a lovely woman walked into the shelter, met with Tova, fell in love and will be taking our sweet girl home tonight! A HUGE thank-you to everyone who shared Tova’s story and never stopped believing that her pefect home was out there.”

The next time you’re thinking of using social media marketing for a particular long-term dog or cat, try this:

  • Provoke the hero instinct in potential adopters, and get a crowd that looks like they’d do anything for your dog or cat;
  • Compose the photo with a clean background, enough space to drop in great big text;
  • More people in the photo means more posting and sharing across social media platforms;
  • Put your dog or cat front and center!;
  • Make the textual message, above, as simple, straightforward, “in the moment” as possible.  No bummers.


I can’t tell you how happy I am for Tova.  Shepherds form a very special, strong bond with their owners and I hate the thought of a shepherd without a person to love and be loyal to.  Shantell, you and CHS are AMAZING.

Stuffed animal plush toy pitbulls based on real-life shelter rescues.  Pocket Pitties, from CharlieDog and Friends

CharlieDog and Friends’ “Pocket Pitties”, plush toy pitbulls based on real-life shelter rescues.

For this post, CharlieDog and Friends is sending Calgary Humane Society a collection of our “Adopt” collar bracelets and Pocket Pitties.

Do you know a shelter that’s doing it brilliantly with an innovative or unique approach to social media marketing for their homeless pets?  Let us know!:


Get Them Adopted Faster: Our Weekly Inspiration for How It’s Being Done Brilliantly

“SECOND CHANCES”: Calgary Humane Society

Animal shelter and rescue advertising publicity campaign for Calgary Humane Society, a shelter for homeless animals in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

“Second Chances” is a publicity campaign for Calgary Humane Society that uses the dog’s (vulnerable) point of view to evoke some badass empathy.

Okay, while I know it’s currently out of style to project your own human emotions on your pet (see monologue, above, from the point of view of the dog), one of the beautiful things about pet ownership is the way it encourages, even increases our ability to empathize.

Go get her, Vulnerable Guy!

I just love this campaign from the Calgary Humane Society***.  We all know — or are, ourselves — people with faults.  And we know that dogs and cats, like people, aren’t perfect, no matter where they live or come from.  This campaign gets you thinking about the last time you felt so strongly about someone that you knew you were about to embark on a new course.  Pets do that to you.


PS:  In addition to having an engaging website and progressive schedule of activities (see their Kids For Animals Club!), Calgary Humane Society has an active Facebook page, Pinterest page, and you can of course follow them on Twitter.

Tweet this!

CharlieDog and Friends' "Adopt" Collar Bracelets encourage adopting the family dog or cat

CharlieDog and Friends’ “Adopt” Collar Bracelets, to encourage adopting the family dog or cat, or start the conversation!

***CharlieDog and Friends is sending Calgary Humane Society a whole bunch of our unique “Adopt” collar bracelets to sell or give away or use in their next fund-raiser.  Adjustable to your wrist and made of colorful, gorgeous, machine-washable Michael Miller fabrics, our bracelets are embroidered with the word, “Adopt” (like our design “Bella”, right).  And they look just like the collar your other family member wears!  There are 12 styles in all.

Know of a great campaign or publicity event to get dogs adopted faster?  Let us know and if we use it on this blog, we’ll send that organization a whole bunch of our bracelets!