Social media proves a ‘paw-sitive’ force for pet adoptions

Bruno Barlett became a viral sensation after being posted to Facebook. 

By Madison Keller

After months of searching for a ‘fur-ever’ home, Wright-Way shelter posted a picture of Bruno, a 25-pound Russian Blue on Facebook with pictures of him standing on his back legs. The image quickly went viral.

Shelter animals are often overlooked, but social media posts can give people a better understanding of an animal’s personality, said Dawn Isenhart-Copp, President of Lulu Locker’s Rescue, located in Frankfort, IL.

Clear, vibrant pictures that make the animal stand out have the most success in finding the animal a home, according to Isenhart-Copp.

“Social media lends a huge hand into helping us expose how wonderful these animals are and there’s nothing wrong with them,” said Jillian Paukstis, a dog rescue volunteer from Logan Square.

“[Bruno the fat cat] was sitting up, and if it wouldn’t have been for that post, I can almost guarantee something like that would’ve not went viral,” Paukstis said.

When posting to social media, the goal is to use unique photos and videos that capture an animal’s behavior. The online caption should be a description of the type of adopter that would be best suited for that animal, said Angelica Staniszewska, the  founder and director of Chicago Animal Advocates.

Staniszewska said when the Chicago Animal Advocates create posts, they try to give detailed descriptions of the animal, including its history.

“We learn a lot about their personalities [through fostering], but we also learn a lot about their medical [history],” Isenhart-Copp said.

Paukstis said she decided to foster a Pitbull named Poe when she fell into the hands of Animal Care and Control at 11 years old. Poe was thought to have only had six to eight months to live, but now she is 17 and has been Paukstis’ companion for the last six years.

“She’s outlived her lifespan, tripled it, so she’s happier than she’s ever been,” Paukstis said. “She’s so grateful to be alive, and I feel so good about that.”

When adopting from a shelter, the  connection should play the largest role in deciding which pet to take home, not the animal’s age, Paukstis said.

“You may have had your eyes set out on a puppy, then you meet a two or three-year-old dog and they’re the most loving animal you could ever ask for,” Paukstis said. “It’s only because you gave them a chance.”

Approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year—670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats—according to the ASPCA.

“It’s gonna be [an] uphill battle,” Paukstis said. “Until people start adopting and considering they can find their best friend at the local shelters or rescues.”