The Shelter Pet Project Marks First Ad Council Campaign to Focus on Pets

September 24, 2009

Sharon Fletcher, Director of Marketing & Communications

The Advertising Council, in partnership with The Humane Society of the United States and Maddie's Fund, announced today the launch of The Shelter Pet Project, a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign, designed to encourage pet lovers throughout the country to make shelters their first choice for acquiring companion animals. The Shelter Pet Project is the first national PSA campaign to bring together the largest animal welfare organizations and many shelters across the country for one unified goal-to increase pet adoption.

There are approximately 75 million dogs and 88 million cats in American households. Presently, most people do not obtain their pets from shelters, but rather from pet stores, the Internet, friends, neighbors, breeders or other sources. According to The Humane Society of the United States and Maddie's Fund, eight million pets enter shelters and rescue groups every year, with three million of these healthy and treatable pets euthanized due to a lack of adoption.

The Shelter Pet Project aims to change the public's perception of shelter pets and encourage Americans to save a pet's life by adopting from an animal shelter or rescue group. The campaign is geared toward all Americans, including current, past and potential pet owners, but particularly those who are planning on acquiring a pet within the next year and who have not yet decided where they will get their pet from.

"By reaching a subset of the population uncertain about where they'll obtain their next dog or cat and convincing them that an animal shelter is the best source, we can end the euthanasia of homeless dogs and cats in this country," said Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. The animal welfare cause has never had an advertising campaign with this creativity."

"The death of animals in shelters is a national tragedy-one that we'll finally be able to end thanks to this historic campaign," said Rich Avanzino, Maddie's Fund President. "We are deeply indebted to the Ad Council and Draftfcb for turning national attention to the plight of shelter animals and inspiring people to adopt."

The humorous PSAs, created pro bono by Draftfcb Chicago, aim to break down the stereotypes associated with shelter pets and make shelters and rescue groups the desired place for people to find a pet. The ads feature stories of how pets come into shelters through no fault of their own, but to due owners' issues, such as divorce, financial difficulty and ill-prepared owners. The television, radio, print, outdoor and Web ads direct audiences to visit a new comprehensive Website,, to find out more information about how to adopt a pet from a shelter. The Website also includes a "Pet Personals" section, where users are asked questions about themselves and are then matched with potential pets from a local shelter or rescue group using the database.

"We are proud to join with The HSUS and Maddie's Fund on this very important campaign, the first in our 67-year history that will benefit pets," said Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of the Ad Council. "This campaign will help change the conversation about pet shelters and help Americans understand that they are a wonderful place to adopt a pet. Ultimately, our efforts will provide loving homes for healthy shelter dogs and cats throughout the country."

"This is an excellent and overdue opportunity to put our expertise to work on behalf of perfectly healthy, wonderfully friendly animals desperate for someone to care for them," said Mark Modesto, president of Draftfcb Chicago. "When our Executive Chairman Howard Draft first approached Peggy Conlon with the idea, everyone recognized that this was an unprecedented opportunity to educate a national audience on this important issue."

In addition to the new PSAs and website, The Shelter Pet Project will engage the target audiences through a series of social media strategies, including blog and online outreach, as well as social networking initiatives. The campaign will encourage advocates, shelter workers, pet lovers and all Americans to become a "fan" and take a pledge to adopt a pet on Facebook. Audiences will also have the opportunity to sign up on Twitter to receive tweets about adoptable shelter pets, interact on Myspace, and view the new PSAs through YouTube.

All of the new PSAs are being distributed to more than 33,000 media outlets nationwide this week. Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media. Initial partnerships include a commitment from Animal Planet to air the TV PSAs on their network over the next year beginning September 24 as part of their national campaign R.O.A.R., Reach Out. Act. Respond dedicated to helping animals in need, whose principal partners include The Humane Society of the United States and

A second series of PSAs, including TV, outdoor and Web banners, were developed in collaboration with Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and will be distributed nationwide. The PSAs, which feature the lovable characters from Disney's Santa Buddies, aim to further elevate the issue of pet adoption by engaging parents as well as their children.

The Humane Society of the United States
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization - backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty. To learn more about HSUS, please visit

Draftfcb is the first global, behavior-based, holistic marketing communications organization to operate against a single P&L. In delivering its clients a high Return on IdeasSM,, the agency is driven by The 6.5 Seconds That MatterSM, a creative expression recognizing the brief period of time marketers have to capture consumers' attention and motivate them to act. With nearly 140 years of combined expertise, Draftfcb has roots in both consumer advertising and behavioral, data-driven direct marketing and firmly believes there is no way to separate creativity from accountability. Part of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE:IPG), the Draftfcb network spans 97 countries with more than 9,600 employees.

The Ad Council
The Ad Council ( is a private, non-profit organization that marshals volunteer talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to deliver critical messages to the American public. The Ad Council has produced, distributed and promoted thousands of public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas of health & safety, community and education.

About Maddie's Fund

Maddie's Fund® is a family foundation established in 1994 by Dave and Cheryl Duffield and is the fulfillment of a promise to their inspirational dog, Maddie. She provided them much joy from 1987 – 1997 and continues to inspire them today.

The Foundation has awarded over $275.7 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, pioneering shelter medicine education and establishing foster care as a standard across the U.S.

Maddie's Fund proudly offers the industry a national voice, important funding opportunities for bold ideas, learning resources and access to collaborate and share innovative solutions. The Foundation invests its resources in a commitment to keeping pets and people together, creating a safety net of care for animals in need and operating within a culture of inclusiveness and humility. #ThanksToMaddie.