The Shelter Project: Worth a Closer Look
By Kimberley Coughlin
January 7, 2014


Walking through the mall this weekend, I spotted an advertisement with an adorable pack of dogs in superhero costumes. I figured it was just an advertisement for the next “Air Bud” installment, but upon closer examination I realized it was an ad for The Shelter Pet Project.

A joint effort by The Humane Society of the United States, Maddie’s Fund, and The Ad Council, the goal of the campaign is to make shelters the first place people consider when adopting a pet. Together they plan to break the stereotypes surround shelter pets. Their message is, “A person is the best thing to happen to a shelter pet. Be that person. Adopt.”

Even as someone who is pro-rescue when it comes to pet adoption, five adorable golden retrievers in super-hero costumes are not what I imagine when you say, “shelter dog.” At the very least, the image I saw has that look-twice quality, which is important in an ad. I can’t think of any other time I’ve stopped at a sign in the mall unless it was a store map.

In addition to the ad I saw in the mall, The Shelter Project has also created a variety of different television spots that include celebrities talking about their shelter pets, cartoons (some of which feature characters from Patrick McDonnell’s comic strip “Mutts”) and my personal favorite, the imagined inner monologues of shelter pets. These videos seemed to communicate the message of the project more clearly, but it was the ad in the mall that brought me to the website in the first place. Well played, Shelter Pet Project, well played.