Here's an ingenious idea for getting shelter dogs up for adoption out into the public eye: put their pictures in a furnishings store. In Singapore, two shelter agencies — Save Our Street Dogs and Animal Lovers League — collaborated with the advertising agency DDB Singapore and IKEA to create life-size photo cardboard cutouts of animals in need of homes and displayed them in furniture showrooms. The project featured photos of 26 dogs in two IKEA stores — so as your eye gazes over that love seat, you'll also glimpse a perky-eared pooch standing by, ready to complete your living room. Every canine has a "kennel card" of sorts around its neck with information on where the dog can be found for adoption. Since then, other stores have joined the project.
Of course, I would never suggest anyone acquire a dog or cat or any animal to complete the living room decor, but this is exactly the clever kind of marketing that rescue animals desperately need.
There are an estimated 6 million to 8 million cats and dogs that get cared for each year in shelters in the United States, and half of those (3 million to 4 million) are euthanized each year, according to the Humane Society of the U.S. Most of these animals can become loving and loyal pets if they get a chance to be seen by potential adopters.
Even as shelters are overhauled and made more pleasant, they can still be difficult places to visit, with kennel after kennel of barking, sad-eyed dogs. So shelters have found ways to get dogs and cats out to potential adopters. In addition to posting pictures online, shelters supply animals to humane pet stores that spruce them up, get them checked out by vets and display them in cheery storefronts. Best Friends Animal Society's NKLA ("No-Kill Los Angeles") Pet Adoption Center in West L.A. looks more like a boutique hotel for pets than a shelter. The idea is to let people experience the animals in a calmer, brighter setting and make a choice from there.
I would love to see the actual animals in IKEA stores, but I can imagine that might be logistically and legally difficult, what with city and county ordinances and excited dogs perhaps mistaking that IKEA sofa for, um, a tree.
But the photo showcase is certainly the next best thing and a great idea to try in stores here.