Working with shelters and humane societies with your pet store

Working with shelters and humane societies with your pet store

Rescuing a pet can be a very rewarding experience for both the adoption organization and the adopter. Most people don’t know that 25% of the pet population at humane societies and shelters are purebreds and 3-4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year. Most breeders are reputable, but puppy mills, backyard breeders, and the lack of spaying and neutering in this country create more pets than are currently adoptable. Stephanie Hiemstra, executive director of The Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe, states, “The pet overpopulation problem in this country is an unnecessary tragedy. It can be solved if people simply spay and neuter their pets. Irresponsible dog and cat breeding results in millions of animals being euthanized in shelters every year for no reason other than they have nowhere to go.”

How can you as a business owner turn the problem into a positive for both shelter pets and your business? Hosting monthly adoption programs with your local shelters and humane societies can raise awareness of the overpopulation problem, find countless homes for pets, and create a positive business reputation in your community. If adoptions happen often enough, they can also increase your sales. According to Stephanie, “off-site adoptions are really great ways for rescues to find homes for their animals. Manpower is the main issue in arranging an off-site adoption, whether it’s just for the day or long-term. If [The Humane Society] we are having an all day adoption event at a store, we need to recruit lots of volunteers, get all the cages out and set everything up. But all the work is worth it if we find homes for any of our animals.”

Most humane societies advertise their adoptions and locations, and your business can benefit from cooperative advertising as well as positive exposure. The newly adopted pet will need to be equipped with collars, food, beds, etc. and what better place for that than where the pet is adopted. Celia Sack, owner of Noe Valley Pet Co. in San Francisco, California, regularly arranges adoptions. “Adoptions attract a lot of people, which is always good for business. It’s also great to see them find new homes and customers always feel a connection to your store when they adopt a pet from your business,” says Celia. Holding adoptions can be a win-win situation for both your business and local rescue groups. However, before you call your local Humane Society or SPCA to arrange an adoption at your store, consider the pros, cons, and tips below.


– Creates a positive reputation for your business in the community.

– Businesses benefit from humane society co-op advertising – ads that promote their adoptions and locations.

– Increases sales from walking traffic

– Increases sales from customers equipping their new pet.

– Creates a lifelong bond with the adopted pet owner and your business.

– Dogs and cats who might otherwise have been euthanized are adopted into loving homes.


– You need a space large enough to accommodate several dogs and cats.

– Creating a pet space may involve rearranging the store layout.

– Includes additional time and wages for setup, staff, etc.

– It can be difficult to find rescue organizations with enough volunteers and equipment to hold regular adoptions.


– Run adoptions regularly to maintain a specific time and place for customers who want to adopt.

– Ask the Humane Society or shelter to volunteer to keep your extra staff to a minimum.

– Make sure the organization you choose is easy to work with and flexible to your needs and has a positive reputation in the community.

– Be sure to review the rescue organization’s policies and procedures.

– Add the monthly or weekly reception hours and dates to your own advertising plan.

– Make sure staff and volunteers arrive one hour before each planned adoption to allow time for setup and organization.

– Offer a 10% discount to increase the products purchased for the new pet.

– Have fun with the event!

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