With eye-catching photos of clearly joined-at-the-heart pets and people and an entertaining compatibility survey reminiscent of the human versions, Richmond's MYM launch promised just that. Billboards, print ads, TV and radio spots, window clings and even tray liners at sponsor Wendy's enticed the public to the RSPCA website or the adoption center to take the real MYM dog or cat Adopter Survey and identify their ultimate canine or feline matches. (Barber Martin Agency of Richmond donated their truly creative services for the campaign.)
According to Richmond COO Tamsen Heckel Kingry, "It was fun; it was engaging; and it got people interested even if they weren't planning to adopt right then."
Those who go to the website find a clear explanation of the MYM green, orange, and purple colors. Potential adopters can also download and complete the cat or dog Adopter Survey before going to the shelter. At the same time, adopters can preview animals up for adoption, creatively displayed by MYM color category, and begin to think about whether they might be happier with a purple Couch Potato or an orange Executive. And at the shelter, an adoption counselor uses the survey to help adopters find their matching Canine-ality™ or Feline-ality™.
A Boon for Adult Animals
According to Kingry, MYM puts the emphasis less on the age or look of an animal and more on the personality — and that's an advantage for older cats and dogs waiting for adoption. Using MYM tools, Richmond staff are often able to convert people who come in looking for puppies or kittens into willing adopters of adult animals.
From June to September of 2008, adult cat adoptions were 61% higher than the same period in 2007.
Adoptions of adult dogs soared 63%.
That fits right in with Richmond's aggressive spay/neuter programs, which are reducing the number of puppies and kittens available for adoption. "People come in thinking they want puppies or kittens, and we may not have them available," Kingry explains, "We don't want to lose that great home just because we don't have what they think they want. Using the MYM adopter surveys, we can help them gravitate to other animals waiting in the shelter."
Creating Great Pet Parents
MYM is all about opening up communication with adopters and creating bonds between adopters and their animals. Kingry believes we should all be focused on building a community of responsible pet parents rather than looking for ways to preclude people from adopting. "We all know, if we refuse to adopt to someone, they'll get an animal somewhere else — a pet store or breeder — and we'll have missed an opportunity to educate," she says. "MYM lets us build a relationship with an adopter based on respect and trust so that he or she can become a great pet parent."