In a surprising twist, the survey found young adults ages 18-34 have conflicted feelings about shelter animals. This thought process may be driven in part by the fact that nearly four out of 10 young adults believe animals in a shelter are not necessarily at risk, and that they will remain in a shelter until they are adopted (compared to three out of 10 total).
The reality is shockingly different; approximately four million homeless pets are killed each year in America’s shelters. Additionally, nearly half of all young adults surveyed believe shelter animals are less desirable than those obtained from breeders (46 percent young adults versus 33 percent total).
“We were sad to learn that to some extent animals in shelters are stereotyped by young adults as damaged goods,” said Gregory Castle, CEO and co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society. “The fact is that every day in this country perfectly wonderful family pets land in shelters through no fault of their own, all of whom need and deserve a home of their own.”
What role might an over-reliance on heartbreaking stories of pets portrayed as abandoned, neglected or abused play in this perception? In research used to develop its public service campaign, the Shelter Pet Project learned that such portrayals tend to alienate many adopters, and therefore the project takes a humorous and myth-busting approach in its ads.
And the Chronicle of Philanthropy recently reported that one Texas shelter saw a huge increase in adoptions, donations, and volunteers when they ditched the sob stories and went with a funny and upbeat campaign.
If you’re concerned about finding more homes for more pets, and don’t want to see gains of recent years eroded, consider a positive approach to your adoption pitch.