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Overaggressive petfinder listings

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I was browsing Petfinder to get an idea of what sort of cats are being helped in private rescue groups. Some were cut and dried factual descriptions while others got cute or were written in the cat's first person. ("Hello, I am a funny little furball who loves to make people laugh. I enjoy sitting in window sills and playing with my Turboscratcher." Etc.) The best one was a picture of a big chubby cat laying on a towel that said "I really need a warm lap!" and that was the entire explanation.

Anyway, there were two that bothered me. It was a pair of littermates that were at a high kill rate shelter. A concerned employee had listed them and used an aggressive first-person description: "We are scheduled to be killed on [date]. Please save me or my sister. Our old owner just dumped us. We're too young to die." The same was used on the other's profile.

I think such a description goes too far. First, adopting a pet is a major decision that plays out over the course of 10+ years. It shouldn't be done haphazardly or under duress. And I worry about what sort of people would be influenced by such an aggressive sales job -- hoarders, opportunists or people who are acting out of emotion. Many of them don't have the money or resources to provide a quality home.

What do you think? I am all for creative marketing, but it should be about promoting the cat's positive qualities and not manipulative guilt trips. There was zero information presented about these cats except their schedule to be euthanized.
post #2 of 9
It's probably someone who felt helpless about the situation, but wanted to do something. I agree it's not the smartest way to get a cat adopted, but it certainly is a way of getting people's attention quickly, which is what is needed in this situation. These kittens don't have the luxury of being passed over for weeks, until they find the perfect person.
post #3 of 9
I definitely think it's a bad way to market cats, but the very fact that the shelter is using Petfinder is a huge step in the right direction.
post #4 of 9
Just my but I think ads like that are targeted at the many rescue organizations and volunteers who browse the petfinder site. Many times the rescue groups will review the high-kill posts for potential rescues, then contact the high-kill and arrange to have them pulled and transported, to avoid them being euthanized.
I do agree that for the unsuspecting browser an ad like that could tug at one's heartstrings and unintentionally create a whole new set of problems. Someone in the same city may be THINKING about getting a pet, see the ad and say " I can't let this animal die" so they call the shelter, show their ID and shell out the adoption fee without really thinking it through. So a week, a month or six months go by and the animal has behavior problems (possible stemming from or the root cause of the dumping) that the new owner can't deal with and the animal winds up back at the same shelter.
That's why I appreciate how finicky rescues are - they want to be sure they're helping to solve the problem of homeless pets, not contributing to it.

OK, so that was a lot more than $0.02 . . .
post #5 of 9
I'm on a local rescue yahoo group and see all types of pleas between the small rescue groups. After a while, you begin to recognize the folks that use this technique and from my perspective, their pleas are often ignored simply because they use that tactic over and over again.

The folks that actually get help from other rescuers are the ones that state the facts very plainly, and ask for help. A better ad would be: "There are 2 kittens in xx shelter that are targeted to be euthanized on xx date. Do you have room in your group to help these sweet guys? Picture attached." Makes the point without playing with your emotions. Anyone in rescue knows exactly what this means, is in rescue because they care about animals, and will help if they can.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I agree. I guess in my mind I react most favorably to ads where someone has taken the time to develop a personalized description about the cat in question. Their temperment, their overall activity level, what sort of household they need, etc. If there isn't a chance to determine such background information, then just stick to the basic facts and avoid the counterproductive melodrama. (IMO)
post #7 of 9

I totally know what you mean. I used Petfinder to be matched up with Cosmo and his listing was listed as "URGENT - This gorgeous velvety beauty has been scared out of his wits for weeks sitting in the back room of a town shelter just smelling death in the air!! But now he made it to the front and I have my eye on him!! Not for one minute do I think he is a big bad boy. I can tell he is a great big mush that can't believe what happened to his life!"

Luckily, I contacted the rescue group trying to get him adopted out... and they were FABULOUS.

There were many others (from DIFFERENT rescue groups) I came across that said things like "this cat is on deathrow and doesn't deserve to die" or "please don't let this sweet baby die". There were also groups that wanted a non-refundable deposit of $75 and expected you to take the cat site-unseen. Being I had just lost my kitty of 18 years, it made me especially sad... and like you, I really felt it crossed the line. Pulling on heart strings to get people to agree to take a cat (and for that reason only) is why so many end up back out on the street again.

Luckily, while I wasn't thrilled with the way Cosmo was listed, I did feel it was tamer than some of the others, and ultimately I am glad I contacted them. The woman I dealt with was exceptional and very upfront about him. She immediately pulled him from the shelter, got him neutered and placed him in foster care until I could meet him, and ASSURED me if I didn't like him it was okay, they'd find another home for him... that there was no pressure, she wanted me (AND my family) to connect with the cat. He turned out to be fabulous! (And the foster "mom" was incredible as well... very nice, gave us the scratching post Cosmo had come to love and a catnip toy he seemed to like, and actually cried when we gave her our donation because she was so touched!)
post #8 of 9
I think these ads do work, which is a double edged sword. For me, as a small-time rescuer in an urban area, it means that my cats rescued from the streets of my home city are competing for homes with cats who were pulled by local rescues from rural shelters 5 hours away.

Since the shelters in this area all have horrific euthanasia rates, it's not like there are not enough homeless animals around here to meet demand. Cat overpopulation is an absolute crisis around here and it doesn't help matters when rescues are picking the cutest kittens and purebreds from shelters several hours away and then putting them up for adoption in this area.
post #9 of 9
I agree with Nano and ComeresMom, there is something about those ads that make me uncomfortable. They are so obviously a play on the heartstrings. I can see how it would work for a rescue, but I don't think that adopting an animal ONLY because it is going to be put to sleep is a good idea. I mean, ideally if you adopt an animal from a rescue group you are freeing up room in their system for another animal, so you are indirectly saving a life then too. I hope I'm making sense.

And then again, like ComeresMom said, Petfinder has a wide variety of postings. I've seen people offering animals up to stud (it's a rescue site!) or because they got a "new kitten" they need to find a home for their old kitty that's not getting along. Just because it's a Rescue Site doesn't mean you shouldn't be careful.
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