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March 27, 2014

All dogs want a “forever home,” and one of the quickest ways to find one is through social media.

If dogs had opposable thumbs they might tweet that they’re looking for a forever home, or Instagram it, Facebook it or even record a video, but they don’t.

If they could speak, they’d probably tell you how good they’ll be and how much love you’ll get from them, but they can’t.

All they can do is be cute, wag their tails and look at you with those big brown eyes when you visit a shelter or kennel. If dogs could use social media, they wouldn’t need to rely on humans to make the push for them…but unfortunately (and fortunately) they’re only cute furballs looking for love.

That’s where animal shelters step in: they use social media to get their message out there, saying “Hey! Look at this adorable pet, waiting to love you, brighten your life and make you a forever parent.

Social media offers non-profits like animal shelters a huge advantage by providing a free forum to promote their pets and services, solicit volunteers to help keep the wheels turning and create a community that rallies around our furry friends.

A typical person may think that volunteering at a shelter involves physically being there and investing hours of your time. But with the evolution of social media, the push to help animal shelters extends to the comfort of your own home and even on your phone. The shelter that I volunteer at, Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT Philly), has some of the most dedicated and hard working volunteers in the country — and it shows through the social media community. If you just visit their Facebook page, you can see how volunteer rally around this shelter by liking, retweeting and sharing their messages.

Whether it’s posting on Facebook, tweeting, writing or posting Craigslist ads, taking pictures or creating promotional videos, Philadelphia’s animal shelter community has it covered to help push for urgent adoptions, create buzz for adoption online casino events or just show the joy of being a volunteer.

One of the biggest social media efforts from Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia’s own Philly Urgents page, where every dog and cat is available for viewing with pictures, and videos while reaching close to 18,000 people on Facebook.

Just like all social media efforts, visuals are the key to success and with plenty of dogs and cats to take pictures of the Philly Urgents posts are widely successful. Activity ranges on each photo, but typically a post can see anywhere from 70 likes and 10 shares to upwards tohundreds of likes and thousands of shares (like sweet Regina below). To put it in perspective, this sort of activity in some instances is greater than content that company pages like Coca Cola (80.6 million fans) and Ben & Jerry’s (7.3 million fans) post.

Philly Urgents is just one example of the many social media pages and accounts that are designated solely to help promote dogs and cats looking for a home in Philadelphia, and it’s certainly the largest. Other accounts are devoted to specific dogs, ACCT Philly Pen Pals, videos or pictures.

When my girlfriend and I adopted our dog Rousseau (Roo, for short) from ACCT Philly, we wanted to give back and started to volunteer, first by walking dogs and more recently creating short promotional videos for dogs and promoting them on TwitterInstagram and a blog. Just as a company, organization or cause creates a YouTube channel for promotions, the channel that hosts our videos promotes dogs and is used to (for lack of a better word) humanize these shelter dogs by giving them more personality and making them more real.

Now if you don’t have time to volunteer at the shelter or it’s not your thing, you can still help. It’s as easy as clicking the share button or liking a picture/video or retweeting a tweet of a dog that needs your help to find a forever home. If social media has the power to get these kids a puppy or get this sister to name her baby Megatron, it has the power to help find adoptable shelter animals a forever home. It can all start with the simple click of the mouse or the tap of a screen.

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About the Author

Kurt Gies

According to multiple sources close to Kurt, he wears hats. He also likes dogs. The rest is really a mystery.

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