October 3, 2017
Categories: Research

In 2014, the Shelter Pet Project, an Ad Council public service advertising campaign promoting pet adoption and funded by Maddie’s Fund® and the Humane Society of the United States, conducted a research survey of 1,402 people to understand how to increase the number of pets acquired from animal shelters and rescue organizations. What can we learn from the findings to help us understand what motivates people to adopt pets and to recommend that their friends and family members do the same?

Responses to the survey, which was performed by the campaign’s pro bono advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, provided evidence of great passion and enthusiasm for adoption among those who have already adopted. They feel strong pride and social responsibility in discussing their adoption experience and love for their pet. Moreover, those likely to acquire a dog or cat are very likely to talk to friends and family about options, and this group is highly receptive to persuasion by those adopters they personally know.

Here are some key findings about motivation and recommendation:

  • The driving reason for shelter/ rescue pet adoption is doing the right thing. Adopters feel good about saving a life and finding a great companion in the process.
  • One-third of adopters loved the idea of joining the passionate community of shelter-pet adopters; these findings were similar across all generations.
  • Those who had adopted felt the process was smooth, things were clean and organized, staff was knowledgeable and they got a good sense of the pet’s background. A third thought it was fun!
  • Pet adopters passionately recommend shelters/ rescue: 71 percent have already done so, compared to only 41 percent of those acquiring from a breeder, and 21 percent acquiring from a pet store. Also, one-third of adopters say they recommend it “very often.”
  • Discussing adoption evokes a strong sense of pride, kindness and social responsibility to a degree not seen among the breeder and pet store segments.

Of those 1,402 who participated in the survey, 500 indicated they were likely to acquire a dog or cat in the next 12 months, 501 had already adopted a dog or cat from a shelter (64 percent) or rescue group (36 percent), and 401 had purchased a pet from a breeder (73 percent) or pet store (27 percent).

The complete study, which examined a number of issues related to pet adoption as well as a description of the methodology, can be read here.