Pet Adoption Events at Shopping Centers

May 2012 by Carrie Williams, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Stoneridge Shopping Center

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers

Last year, Stoneridge Shopping Center partnered with Maddie's Fund® for Maddie's® Matchmaker Adoptathon. This was the first time Stoneridge had ever hosted a large-scale, two-day, pet adoption event and it proved to be an enormous success for everyone involved. Our great location, high-volume foot traffic, available parking, free in-house publicity and the suitability of our main grand court area helped 129 dogs and cats find new homes. The far-reaching event publicity generated by Maddie's Fund brought new shoppers to our mall and put our name in front of millions of Bay Area residents. The event itself created a wonderful atmosphere in our shopping center. Our management and regional teams were so pleased with the outcome, we're hosting again this year!

As we prepare for this year's Maddie's® Matchmaker Adoptathon, I wonder why other animal shelters and rescue organizations haven't approached us to hold similar adoption events throughout the year. Working with a shopping center is easy if you know who to call and what questions to ask. To help organizations maneuver the process, I've created a list of helpful tips:

  • Gain support: During initial contact with the shopping center, discuss how hosting an adoption event can positively impact their image and bottom line.
  • Plan early: Shopping centers work on their event calendars months in advance. If you have a specific date in mind, be sure to build in plenty of time for the approval process, insurance requirements and legal documentation.
  • Approval process: The approval process will vary from shopping center to shopping center, but getting in touch with the right person will help to expedite that process. The best person to contact is the marketing director or events manager. You can find this information on the shopping center's website or by calling the management office.
  • Insurance requirements: Shopping centers have strict insurance requirements and legal documentation that must be completed when an outside group comes onto its property for an event. Liability of the animals is the sole responsibility of the animal shelter/rescue organization, and proof of insurance is required. Make sure your organization can meet these requirements before you begin your planning.
  • Success stories: Be prepared to discuss past events to help your contact visualize what you have in mind, including photos, media coverage and adoption numbers. Testimonials from other shopping centers or retail stores that you have worked with are also helpful.
  • Animal access: Enclosed shopping centers typically only allow service animals on site. However, many places make exceptions for special circumstances like pet photos with Santa or adoption events. Be sure to discuss how the animals will be contained, what are acceptable noise levels, and identify who will be responsible for cleaning up animal messes.
  • Site visit: Once all approvals have been made, plan a site visit with a representative from each participating shelter/organization and your shopping center contact. Familiarize yourself with the shopping center, including the appropriate loading zone and mall entrance for the animals. If animals will be located outside, be sure to plan for shade and access to water for the animals.

With the right planning and coordination, a shopping center could be the next best place to hold your large-scale adoption event. Give it a try!


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