It's hard to put a start date on my love for animals, it feels like it's always been there – although it's fair to say that it was my 2-years experience as a volunteer at Rome's animal shelter that really opened my eyes to the issue of homeless animals. It's during said time in fact that I learned about the difficulties experienced by shelter workers to achieve the elusive goal of equalising the number of admissions with the number of adoptions. Why is it this hard and what's wrong with the system currently in place? My answer to this is that there's seems to be an invisible barrier between shelters and the community with the addition of a long rooted prejudice against dogs and cats that are not purebred. While certainly I'm not the first person to identify these obstacles to the increase of shelter adoptions, let me further explain what I mean.
Even thought there's been progress in the theory behind the design of urban animal shelters (just a few pointers for those of you interested), the shared common belief that identifies these structures as unsanitary, dirty and sad places to avoid is still predominant. People don't think of their local shelter as a place they'd like to visit or as a public space where they can gather, attend events and meet with others. This lack of interaction with shelters leads to a very limited knowledge of them, their activities and, most of all, their guests. As a consequence, the animals housed in local shelters often end up getting very minimal exposure, regardless of the great amount of time and effort the shelter personnel puts in organising and managing visibility campaigns carried across their social media outlets. Why this is you ask? It's because the majority of the public doesn't follow such outlets and the small percentage that does is people who are already interested and involved in advocating for the 'adopt, don't buy' movement. It is the desire to fix this that has pushed me to create the 'homie' project.
The 'homie' project
The 'homie' project has a simple objective: increase the exposure that shelter animals get in order to maximise their chance for adoption and gradually educate the community to overcome their prejudice against mutts by increasing their familiarity with these amazing animals. We learn to appreciate what we once disregarded because unfamiliar when we're given the chance to learn more about it, don't we?
The 'homie' project intends to achieve this by featuring stories of dogs and cats from local shelters on private websites of all kinds. The idea here is that people who are visiting a site – a personal portfolio site like mine for example – get given the opportunity to learn about local animals looking for a home which they would otherwise probably never hear about.
My belief that this use of private digital platforms to sponsor shelter animals can lead to an increase of adoptions is not too farfetched, especially when you look at what had already been successfully attempted and achieved in the non-digital world. Uber partnership with Three Millions Dogs on National Adopt-A-Shelter-Pet Day, IKEA's Home for Hope campaign and +Kota Pet Adoption Campaign are all great examples of how exposing the public to the issue of homeless animals by bringing the animals physically or virtually in their ordinary places of work and daily life has increased the adoption rates.
The 'homie' project requires the involvement of three different types of players: the digital sponsors, the shelters and the prospective adopters.
The digital sponsors are anyone who would like to devote a section of their personal or business website to feature pictures and key info redericting to the shelter main webiste about dogs and cats seeking adoption in their local area. This can be done in a variety of ways ranging from a dedicated page, to a photo gallery or simply a sticky post on a blog displaying the 'homie' project logo badge in a prominent position to idetify yourself as an official digital sponsor and create awareness around the initiative.
The shelters instead are the ones who would provide the pictures and details of the animals they'd like to enter in project homie, as well as the ones who would take charge of handling any lead generated by the 'homie' project.
Finally, the prospective adopters are anyone who browsing through a website gets interested in the one of the animals sponsored under the 'homie' porject section of the site and decides to get in touch with the shelter hosting it to learn more or put forward an adoption enquiry.
So what are you waiting for? Whether you'd like to be a digital sponsor or you're a shelter wishing to increase the exposure of the animals in your care, get in touch to become part of the 'homie' project today.