The Marketing and Adoption Counseling Survey was launched in January 2022 and distributed by Maddie's Fund®. It was created to learn more about the communications methods being used by animal shelters and rescue organizations to convey information about pets who are available for adoption to the public. The objectives were to establish baseline data on how animal shelters and rescue organizations are marketing pets for adoption and answer the questions of whether marketing and adoption counseling are being mixed in their public narratives. It also collected baseline data on whether shelters and rescue organizations have protocols for ensuring transparency with fosters and adopters, and what their views are on the ethics and logistics of these protocols.
Whether or not to draw a distinction between marketing and adoption counseling is a hotly contested topic in animal welfare, with strong feelings on both sides. The point most everyone appears to agree on is that complete transparency with adopters and foster caregivers is essential, both for ethical reasons and because it can minimize risk.
A common misconception about separating marketing and adoption counseling is that by doing so, means it's impossible to be completely transparent around a pet's history and behavior. This is not true. Complete transparency about pets can be accomplished while keeping marketing and adoption counseling separate. In the child welfare system, for example, public narratives about children are only allowed to contain positive, descriptive information. Information on challenges and support needs is shared with potential adopters in a different way: on a continuum, through private narratives and conversations. This private communication is documented to ensure privacy and for recordkeeping. The same can be done with pets.