A guest post by Jessica Borda

To our greatest joy, here at Austin Pets Alive! we have found that some of our dogs end up staying quite the long time. Some dogs need the time  to learn the manners that will make them successful in their forever home and some are just overlooked because they are at either end of the spectrum-hiding in the back of their kennel or jumping against the kennel door to get the attention of anyone passing by. Our mission is to help each of these dogs find their forever home and sometimes training them is just not enough. For APA’s purposes, long stay dogs are classified as 300 days or more, but each shelter can find a subset of dogs that a team can focus their marketing attention toward-medical cases, foster dogs, senior dogs (http://www.austinpetsalive.org/2015/09/you-could-be-passing-up-on-some-of-the-brightest-gems-at-apa/) or any smaller, easier to focus on group of dogs that need extra attention.

To help market these portion of under served dogs, a team of volunteers, working alongside the staff Marketing Manager, was formed to think outside the box and come up with marketing plans to show these dogs in the best possible light. There is really nothing that this team won’t try-first person blog posts, monthly Outside the Kennel features and plays on current events.
Many of our long stay dogs do not show well in their kennel, so one campaign’s goal was to get them Outside the Kennel to show how great they really are outside of the stress of the shelter. Every third Saturday of the month, a dog is featured through a week long campaign on the  Long Stay Dogs Facebook page, then for two hours on a Saturday afternoon, they hang out in front of the shelter with their favorite volunteer and meet the public-totally relaxed and happy.
As to current events, what better way to capture the hearts of Americans than through the Olympics?! It was an opportunity the long stay dog team couldn’t pass up! It became the #treatcatchingolympics (with its own hashtag) and it went through the trials and narrowed down to Jimbo, the ultimate in treat catching skills! For current event campaigns, it’s best to use a mix of hashtags-ones that are popular with the event (#teamusa, #rio216 #Olympics), along side your own (APA popular ones: #LivesWorthSaving, #TeamAPA, #APAlongstays) to fully embrace the widest possible audience.
Austin Pets Alive! is lucky to have an incredibly supportive community.Along side our virtual marketing campaigns, we are often invited to bars, grand openings and other community events with our dogs. Since most of our longest stay dogs have been practicing their polite behavior, they go to offsite events and charm the locals to encourage them to adopt, whether it’s a large breed, long stay dog or a puppy.
These are just a few examples of thinking outside the box to help market the dogs in our care! The sky is the limit and the long stay dog team is willing to go above and beyond to ensure no dog is overlooked.
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