Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kennel Personality Cards

These cards are meant for the outside of kennels at animal shelters, to give visitors some insight as to the personality of the individual animal. So often animals at shelters don’t have a bio, or are judged purely on breed, or stereotypes, or first impressions. It’s helpful for visitors to know that a dog knows some basic commands, or likes to play or run, or is good with kids/other small animals, etc.

Also available in kitties! These cards will advertise kitties as independent, a lap kitty, a playful kitty, etc. They are about 3” x 5”, and will be laminated. Hole punch is optional. Lots of options will be available, stay tuned!

* I’m excited to announce that we’ve partnered with the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in New Jersey! They will be receiving kennel cards for their end-of-month adoption event!

These will be available on this blog soon! Work at a shelter, and are interested in these cards? Email us!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pit Bull Awareness Month

This month marks not only Adopt a Shelter Dog month, but also Pit Bull Awareness Month. Pit Bull awareness started with just a day in October, and has now turned into the whole month. Pit Bulls need as much awareness and positive press as they can get! This year, PBAD is October 26th.

PBAD was started by Jodi Preis, who started Bless the Bullys, a nonprofit rescue and education effort directed specifically at the American Pit Bull Terrier. ("Pit Bull")

National Pit Bull Awareness Day is meant to show the "breed" in a positive light. To bring positive awareness, and to bond fellow Pit Bull owners and lovers. 

Ways to help

Share, Retweet, Pin, and cross-post: The best way to get the word out about Pit Bulls is through social media. Social media is a powerful tool that can reach people all over the world. It has been proven, that sharing even one dog has saved a life. This month, share an adoptable Pit Bull to help save a life! It's free, and takes little time, but makes a huge difference. To help get you started, here is a list of adoptable "Pit Bull" dogs around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Set a good example: If you own a Pit Bull or Bully breed, make an example out of them. Be a responsible owner; Train, socialize, exercise. Nothing breaks down breed stereotypes like a well-behaved Pit Bull! 

Keep your dogs on leash in public, don't allow your dog to roam. Spay and Neuter your dog, keep them up-to-date on vaccinations and microchip them. Keep them secured on your property, do not leave them outdoors unattended. 

Adopt or Foster: One of the best things you can do for this breed is save a life. Adopting a Pit Bull from a rescue or a shelter saves not only their life, but the life of the next who takes its place. 

Fostering is temporary, but makes a huge difference in the life of a Pit Bull. Many animals are euthanized for space at shelters; Fostering gets them out, and also teaches them how to act in a home environment, which greatly increases their chances of adoption. 

So what are you waiting for! Get out there and Save-a-Bull!

Poster courtesy of Change of Heart Pit Bull Rescue

Monday, August 26, 2013

The importance of a good photo

Animals in shelters aren't seen if they don't have a photo. Animals aren't shown at their best with a crummy photo. Great photos get animals noticed. It gives potential adopters, and rescuers, an idea of what breed the dog may be, or its size. A friendly photo makes an animal look more adoptable, look happy, and healthy. A great photo makes a huge difference in the visual adoptability of an animal.

 Things to consider when photographing shelter animals: background, color, props, lighting.


Colors: White is great, or bright colors that don't distract from the animal. Avoid photographing dark animals on dark backgrounds. You want the animal to stand out. 

If doing photos outdoors, colorful plants, or neutral objects are best. Try avoiding kennels and fencing, cars, people, etc. Neutral backgrounds like walls can be helpful if you don't have other options. If you are limited outdoors, wearable props can be a huge help to jazz up a boring photo.


Wearable props:
As seen in the picture at left, though the background isn't bad, the bandana helps to jazz up the photo with a not-so-neutral background. Not only that, but it covers the leash, and a paper collar if the dog is wearing one. It can also show that the dog is calm, and tolerant, not trying to tear it off or being too wild to get one on. (Bonus!)

In this particular case, the bandana brings out the dogs gorgeous eyes. Boas also brighten up a photo, and glasses give a dog personality!


Background props can make or break a great photo. At left, you see wonderful bright colors used to cheer up this photo! It makes the dog pop, and gets your attention. It's modern, and can appeal to a wide audience. Too many cheap props can make a photo look tacky, and not as presentable. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Giving a lift to shelter dogs

One of the best things you can do for shelter dogs, is make them comfortable. If a dog in a kennel doesn't have a nice, comfortable place for them to retreat to in the midst of the crazy kennel environment, a dog will become anxious, and unhappy.

Pups from Haven Humane Society
Kuranda beds are perfect for shelter dogs. It gets them up off the concrete floor, to get off the cold ground and away from drafts, and makes it easier for the larger, or older dogs to get up and down.

Kuranda offers discounts for shelters and rescues for their beds to be donated directly to a facility. Salinas Animal Services sent out a request via Facebook, and boom! To date, 44 out of 90 needed have been donated! (6 out of 10 kitty beds have been donated, too!) So far, these beds have been durable. Easy to wash, and sturdy. If you'd like to donate a bed to Salinas Animal Services, please go to the Kuranda website!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Shelter Animal Marketing

Nowadays,  super-marketing is more important than ever in the animal shelter industry. Getting the word out about adoptable animals means saving lives. There are some shelters that people don't know exist, but find adoptable animals from social media. Many animals wouldn't make it out if it weren't for social media, and networking. 

At left, a sample flier for an adoptable dog at Salinas Animal Services. This is an easily shared/networked web version of a flier. I also make them with tear-offs that are printable, so you can post them around town; At stores, coffee shops, community boards, etc. 

I use bright colors, and fun, eye-catching fonts. The goal is to make the animal the main focus of the ad. Clear, bright pictures of the animals make the best impressions. Head shots are great, but people actually want to get an idea of the size of the dog. I try to take "body shots" of the dogs, to sort of get an idea of their size, like their height for example. Sometimes, a head shot of a Chihuahua can be deceiving; dogs that are labeled Chihuahua's are often much larger than the true standard Chi. An accurate photo helps when one is looking for the right dog who might not be local, and aren't able to show up at any shelter. Photos of dogs in training are also extremely helpful, as you see in Murphy's flier! This shows the dog has a head-start on their obedience training, and is a huge bonus when looking for a dog to adopt. 

Just sharing and networking animals saves lives! Tweeting, sharing on Facebook, Pinning, all make a huge difference. On Pet Harbor, and, you have many 'share' options which include three of the most popular and widely used social networking sites: Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. 

Great photography is super important! More and more, professional photographers are donating their time and services to shelter animals in need. Great photos increase adoptions. Just ask Lori Fusaro:

Photo credit: Paige Burris-I Love Your Furry Face photography

Another photographer who inspires me is Paige Burris, of I Love Your Furry Face photography. She does excellent work for shelter dogs! (See left)

A great volunteer at the Salinas Shelter, Susanna, also donates her time and equipment to photographing the shelter animals. They are amazing photos, and really show the animals in a different light. (Right)
Adoptable Husky at Salinas Animal Services

Friday, July 26, 2013

Treat Dispensing Toys: Kennel Enrichment Part II

Over the weekend, I asked my dad to help me make some treat dispensing toys out of PVC pipe. I got the idea from the Animal Farm Foundation's Kennel Enrichment program. I'm a big believer in shelter enrichment, and part of that, as I've discussed in previous posts, is treat dispensing toys. Below is a video of a shelter dog, currently available for adoption at Salinas Animal Services using the PVC toys I made. I'd say it was a success!

I got a KONG drive started by posting online, and having a donation bin at my local pet store! I started on Facebook, Twitter, and Craigslist by posting an ad requesting donations. My local feed store, Aptos Feed and Pet Supply, generously agreed to let me have a donation bin set up at the store. I already had a cute bucket, made a flier, and put it up! It's easy to get a KONG drive started for your local shelter!

You can also sign up for "KONG Seconds" which is a program where you can sign up a shelter to receive KONG toys at a discounted price. The catch is, there is a $50 minimum order. Unfortunately, I don't know of a shelter with the funds for that.

This whole thing started based on the Kennel Enrichment program Animal Farm Foundation has posted on their website! AFF is a HUGE inspiration, and are as dedicated to providing kennel enrichment for shelter dogs as I am!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kennel Enrichment

KONGs and toys I stuff for the shelter dogs
Kennel Enrichment (KE) includes a variety of things, including stimulating toys (such as treat dispensing toys), training or exercise activities, in-kennel activities, music, scents, social needs, etc.

The first step in KE is keeping the dogs calm, and focused while in their kennel. A quiet, distracted dog shows much better when visitors are walking by the kennels.

Photo courtesy of Center for Shelter Dogs
KONGs are great, durable, treat dispensing toys. There are plenty of other brands of treat dispensing toys that are equally as challenging, and durable. I will highlight these toys in this post. I regularly hand out KONGs to the dogs at the Salinas Animal Shelter. I am generally there 2-3 days a week. I give them out in the afternoon, when there are the most people there. I use a variety of dog treats, and peanut butter. You can put most anything in them, including regular kibble. Bananas, yogurt, and peanut butter are the most popular. You can also freeze them! They last longer, and are great on hot days when frozen.

Treat dispensing toys I made out of PVC pipe

Rewarding when quiet

Photo courtesy of BADRAP
Rewarding dogs for calm behavior in a kennel at a shelter is crucial. Adopters want to see that a dog is able to calm down, be quiet, and has received some training while in the shelter. This gives new owners, and dogs, a great kick-start to their future in a new home. 

Getting potential adopters involved in the training process is not only fun for them, but is a great learning experience for the dogs. Kids may love to take part in getting the shelter dogs to sit. The idea is, a treat dispenser on the front of the kennel holds treats that are only given to the dog when he or she is quiet, or sits. (Or has all feet on the ground) This reinforces appropriate and calm behavior, while involving the public. 

The treat dispensers can be made for cheap! The Dollar Store has plenty of containers, or buckets that work perfectly for this type of thing. To attach to the kennel, you can use zip-ties, or hooks, or binder clips. They don't have to be as fancy as the one at left. The important part is to put a sign on the dispenser that tells people to only give a treat when the dog is sitting, or not jumping, or is quiet. Otherwise, folks might pass out treats for fun, and that's counterproductive! You want to place the dispenser high enough where the dog cannot get to it.