September 14, 2016
Categories: Marketing, PR, and Social Media, Caring for Special Populations of Animals, Evolution of the No-Kill Movement, MaddieCam Network

Deliah the pitbull was heavily pregnant when she found herself surrendered at an Austin area shelter by her owner. Typically, she would have been spayed, terminating the pregnancy. But  Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) heard about her and brought her into their maternity ward instead. It’s a good thing they did, because the world soon fell in love with Deliah and her soon-to-be born pups.

“When she arrived, the staff expected that she would give birth any day, but it was a couple more weeks before she finally gave birth,” said Lisa Maxwell of APA! The wait became a guessing game and that’s when Dr. Ellen Jefferson, APA!’s executive director, suggested putting her on the MaddieCam so the public could share the experience.

“The notion that these puppies would not have survived elsewhere is tragic, and something most people simply don’t know about. So we saw it as something inspirational as well as educational,” said Jefferson. “We also tied it to a fundraising campaign that raised a few thousand dollars!“

How so? APA! got creative and sent out an e-solicitation with links to the camera, had a “guess the number of puppies” contest, and let the highest donors in a one-week period choose their names. They also post – and continue to post – frequent updates on social media as they develop.

Thousands of viewers soon tuned in, submitting their guesses and even demanding the camera be on 24/7 so they wouldn’t miss a thing. APA! gladly agreed, and promised viewers that, barring any complications, they could witness the birth of the puppies live on the MaddieCam. “Just before she gave birth we found a wonderful foster home and moved her there. The foster mom, Beverly, was so helpful and willing to make sure the camera has a good angle, and to keep our signs in view.”

No surprise, the MaddieCam skyrocketed to one of the top three pages on their website, with nearly 50,000 unique viewers tuning in during the wait.

After much anticipation, Deliah eventually gave birth to 11 puppies. Two were stillborn and one did not survive the first night. Two other puppies – Phoebe and Rio – were struggling to gain weight, so they went to a foster home, leaving six total puppies on the Maddiecam. Phoebe — who was originally the smallest, most fragile puppy — is now almost six pounds!

Although the wait was finally over, viewers found themselves having to wait once more. “We have had a number of inquiries about adoption, with little moo-cow Peetey being the most popular,” said Maxwell. The pups will not be available until they are eight weeks of age and sterilized, but it looks like they won’t have any trouble finding homes when the time comes. “We had to create a spreadsheet to manage the number of inquiries!”

As for Deliah? The sweet mom will be available for adoption soon, too! If you’re interested in adopting her, visit austinpetsalive.org.

Tune into the MaddieCam to keep up with Deliah and her pups, 24/7!