(Note: We are pleased to share this guest blog post from Viktoriya Evlikova, a media relations manager at our PRGN partner agency in Moscow, CROS)
When I began my exchange work program at CooperKatz, I joined the team for Petfinder.com, which is the largest online, searchable database of adoptable pets. Celebrating its 15th birthday, Petfinder.com has facilitated more than 17 million adoptions. And from what I have seen, CooperKatz has certainly played a role in helping to save many animals’ lives.
In the short time I have been here, I can tell that part of this amazing success is due to an effective strategy, creative approach and collaboration among all parties; the CooperKatz PR team, the internal Petfinder.com team, and the media. I wonder – how could an adoption database like Petfinder.com be created in Russia? What kind of tools would we use? What principles would our strategy be based upon?
I’ve started searching for similar websites across the globe, of course spending a lot of time researching Russian resources. I have found some good examples of organizations that support pet adoption and donations; for example enthusiasts who have built special shelters and provide pets with food and medical support. In Russia, we also have large discussion-based forums where people share information about different topics and promote their pets for adoption. But they are dominated by protests and messages that look like a cry for help.
The issue of homeless pets is a really problematic one in Russia. We have many terrible situations when pets are left abandoned on the streets. The resources that I find today are not action-oriented, but rather provide a voice for people trying to raise awareness about the issue. It is a good start, of course, but it would be better if they provided new information about pets, adoption and even some heartwarming stories like Petfinder.com does.
Another method that could be effective is the use of the social networks. For example, Facebook and YouTube could be used to touch people's hearts while showing real examples of pets suffering, and how people can help.
I truly believe that Petfinder.com has been able to address an issue in the United States that is present in most countries, and that we need to do something about it Russia. Perhaps we need exchange experiences for people in the animal welfare industry, like I am doing now? I would love to see Russia “adopt” a lifestyle that promotes animal adoption, care and pets as a part of the family.