One of the best things about fosters is the amount of information you can gather about your shelter dog. But many shelter and rescue programs are challenged to find ways to get photos and information from their fosters.
The usual process can be tedious, but organizations everywhere are finding ways to make it easier. Check out some tried and true methods animal welfare groups are using to increase efficiency, expand community engagement, and gather info from fosters who get to know the pets best!
1. Capture Info With Apps Like AdoptMeApp
Ventura County Animal Services in California is one of the organizations running a new software called AdoptMeApp. This free to download application allows those who interact most with adoptable pets, to tell their stories via captioned photos and videos, instantly adding them right into the pet profiles on the shelters’ websites and automatically posting them to Twitter. It is fully integrated with Chameleon/PetHarbor and ShelterBuddy.
Let’s take a look at Rylo. His foster mom loaded the above photo and caption into the AdoptMeApp. It generated a tweet that includes a link to his profile on the shelter webpage. When anyone views his profile on the website, they see the photos in Chameleon, his information, and a ‘diary’, which is his personal twitter feed.
This isn’t just limited to fosters. Anyone who interacts with a pet in your care can share insights this way! To learn more, head over to the AdoptMeApp website and check out their demo.
2. Set Expectations From the Beginning
At Pima Animal Care Center in Arizona, the foster team makes sure they talk about marketing from the very beginning. According to Foster Coordinator Rachel Jones “There’s a whole lot to be said for setting realistic expectations. If you don’t discuss marketing during your foster on-boarding and then ask for a written bio and cute pictures 3 weeks down the line, you may open your email the next day to a level of sass you don’t appreciate.”
3. Up Your Photography Game
Help your organization’s pets shine by recruiting volunteer groomers and photographers to help your fosters! Many foster parents are intimidated by the thought of taking photos and videos for the whole world to see: they are worried they don’t have a fancy camera, they don’t understand editing software, or they just don’t have enough hands to hold a treat and a camera at the same time.
Photographing pets can be daunting, but it can also be fun! Just ask our friend Seth Casteel, photographer and mastermind behind the Underwater Dogs series. Check out his tips for photographing shelter pets in this GreaterGood.org Shelter Education Series webinar. These tips can help anyone capture a pet’s personality on camera, both in and out of a shelter setting.
4. Connect Through Social Media Groups
Many shelters create focus groups for volunteers to target specific at-risk populations of pets. Austin Animal Center encourages those groups to manage their own social media pages, such as Classic Canines and Desperate Housecats. These groups can provide additional exposure to a new group of potential adopters!
5. Celebrate Your Fosters
Kansas City Pet Project hosts Foster Fridays on their social media pages. How do they get content to use? Chief Communications Officer Tori Fugate says on Thursday “I posted in there ‘Is it Foster Friday yet? Better get your pictures ready for tomorrow!’ People started posting them right away!”
Whatever ways you choose to support your fosters in marketing the pets in their care, make sure you talk about it often and that the process for submitting photos and videos is easy and the expectations are clear. Remember that potential adopters need electronic ways to browse the aisles of foster pets!