Story by Diana Brazhensky. Photo via Facebook.
Thanks to an effective social media campaign that plays on the heart strings of Long Beach residents the city’s animal shelter has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of animals it puts to sleep.
Data from Animal Care Services (ACS) show the euthanasia rate fell by 50 percent for dogs and 44 percent for cats between 2013 and 2015. The data also show ACS staff impounded nearly 30 percent fewer dogs and cats in the last decade.
The decline is thanks to Twitter and Facebook campaigns featuring images of animals up for adoption at ACS. ACS also has an app which allows users to scroll through photos of animals up for adoption and also teaches pet owners about animal safety and health.
“Social media has had the single biggest impact on lowering euthanasia and increasing adoptions at shelters,” says Ted Stevens, ACS Manager. He says social media has broadened their audience and attracted a “customer base by sharing pictures and stories of their adoptable animals.”
Now, more animals are finding new homes. Some 83 percent of dogs and 54 percent of cats were returned to their owners, adopted, or transferred to a rescue group in 2015, according to ACS data. That’s an 8 percent increase for dogs and 7 percent increase for cats from 2014.
“I have adopted here before and I am back again to adopt another dog,” said Michelle Bresnan, a pet owner who came to the shelter after seeing their social media adoption campaign.
Besides helping would be pet owners find their perfect pet, the shelter’s Twitter campaign has also helped owners find lost pets, which keeps animals out of the shelter system and with their owners. Immediately after retrieving an animal, ACS tweets the address of where an animal was found along with its picture using the hashtag #LBLostFoundPets.
FOUND 3Y DOG UNALTERED MALE WHITE SHIH TZU AT 3300 SANTA FE https://t.co/24qtBaWSg6
— LB Lost & Found Pets (@LBLostFoundPets) April 28, 2016
April Ruaburo turned to Twitter when her 4-year-old chocolate Labrador went missing. “I was able to reunite with my dog within a day with the help of this hashtag,” she says.
Through social media, the shelter is reaching out to a younger demographic in hopes that they might adopt a pet.
“The most important thing we can do with social media is pay attention to the trends,” says Kelly Miott, ACS Outreach Coordinator. “We are trying to get a lot of younger people in right now because they help out with our social media platforms. We are on Instagram now.”
Apart from the social media boost, ASC staff also credits an increased number of pet owners spaying or neutering their pets for the plummeting euthanasia rates. Long Beach passed a mandatory spay/neuter law for dogs 6 months and older, with some exemptions, which went into effect last October.
With the help of donations and grants, ACS offer vouchers that may be used in local veterinarian clinics to spay or neuter animals for free (find resources to spay/neuter your animal here.)
According to both Ted Stevens and Kelly Miott, the best ways to further decrease euthanasia is to have more volunteers and expand their social media outreach.
Stevens says changing attitudes towards shelter pets are helping more dogs and cats find loving homes in Long Beach.
“I believe adoption rates are higher due to our cultural paradigm shift,” said Stevens. “It is much cooler now to adopt a shelter animal and society often looks down on people that buy their pets. It is sort of a badge of honor and people brag about their rescue pets.”