Social media continues to grow in popularity these days and Chicago’s animal rescue community is no exception. From Facebook to Twitter to Blogging and YouTube, these organizations are using social media to stay connected to their supporters and to reach out for extra support. It’s very common for local rescues and shelters to use Facebook to highlight pets looking for a home or reach out for additional foster families. In the past few months, these organizations have used social media to get extra assistance when needed and to tap into creative ways to spread their mission.
Facebook assists Save-A-Pet during July power outage
When severe storms hit the Chicago-area on July 11, many area residents waited for days to have their power restored. When the lights went out at Save-A-Pet in Grayslake, the organization started posting updates on Facebook asking for generators, water and other items they needed to care for the animals until power returned.
“Although we were not open for business for adoptions or intakes, we still had over 300 animals to care for,” says Marc Portugal, SAPs development director. “We put the word out on Facebook and Twitter and organizations and individuals lent us generators and people also brought gas (and gas cards) to keep the generators going. Large fans were brought in to keep the air circulating and lots of bottled water was donated. The response from volunteers who just showed up to help was tremendous.”
Although traditional media also covered the situation, supporters were kept in the loop via Facebook and Twitter until power was restored.
Food for though and lost pets at Heartland Animal Shelter
Heartland Animal Shelter has had a busy summer as it has taken in a lot of kittens and cats. Several times during the summer when the shelter has been low on canned cat and kitten food, they’ve put out a call for help on Facebook and followers have dropped donations at the shelter. They also update followers on events.
“We get a great response on Saturdays when we post our weekly adoptions and our followers love when we post happy tails from adopters,” says Lou Basten of Heartland. “We’ve also post information on lost pets. Back in June, a dog name Skye was missing in Deerfield and a couple of Heartland volunteers decided to look in the area after seeing the post. They found the dog, called the owner from her number on Facebook and they were reunited. She ended up making a donation to the shelter in the name of the volunteer that found her dog.”
Young at Heart’s Super Senior Save
Young at Heart rescues senior pets from open-admission shelters and doesn’t have a physical location. Facebook gives them a home to feature adoptable animals, ask for additional foster homes and promote events.
“This summer we raised funds to rescue a dozen seniors in one day,” says Dawn Kemper the organization’s executive director. “Response was so good that we rescued 13 – six cats and seven dogs – and we did a YouTube video that highlighted our efforts. After the rescue, we updated followers on Fillbert, one of the older dogs that dangerously thin. His foster family posted photos as he improved and he had quite a following. He’s since been adopted. We’ve also held a Twitter party – a Twitter event that raised $1,000 for us in 24-hours.”
AHA! And the viral video
Alliance for Humane Action – AHA! is a Lake County organization that raises money and sets up low-cost spay and neuter operations. Although they may not be as well known in Lake County as some other organizations, around the world they are known for their viral video on the importance of spaying and neutering your pets.
“There’s a lot of messaging out there presently about spaying and neutering your pets that is very negative,” says Sharon Johnson who is president of AHA! “We started to talk about how we could get people’s attention as an organization and wanted to get our point across – but be memorable by being upbeat and fun. We wrote a song to the tune of “Help” by the Beatles about a couple of cats that kept reproducing. We put this together one afternoon in about four hours and it’s gone viral.”
That video is not only getting the word out in Lake County, it’s being used by animal rescue organizations around the globe as far away as Australia.
Lifeline for the future
For Save-A-Pet, the connection has been very important. It was just a year ago, the organization announced that it was in dire financial straights and needed help from the community to continue its mission.
“We have learned that Social media is a wonderful way for us to stay connected to our community of supporters to let them know that we are still in business and to get their feedback and support when we need it most,” adds Portugal. “The combination of Facebook, our eNewsletters and Twitter has kept our supporters engaged.”
You may find and follow these organizations –
- AHA! – on Facebook and YouTube
- Heartland Animal Shelter on Facebook and YouTube
- Save-A-Pet on Facebook and Twitter
- Young at Heart on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
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