A Rescue Shelter Showcased Its Dogs for Adoption in a Unique Way. And the Results Are Awesome

It’s a sad fact that in the United States nearly 4 million dogs will be admitted to shelters every single year. What’s even more heartbreaking is that almost a third of those will be put down if they can’t find adoptive owners.

So with these sobering statistics looming over them, animal rescue and adoption organizations are thinking outside the box. Many shelters are coming up with creative ways to get more dogs into loving forever homes.

One such shelter is the Humane Society of Utah (HSU). The organization, which is based in Murray, Utah, is defined as an “open-admissions” shelter; they never turn away an animal they can legally take.

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The Society, founded in 1960, underwent renovations in 2014 to expand its capacity to a whopping 10,481 animals. And as a member of the No-Kill Utah Coalition, HSU is working hard to try and prevent putting a healthy pet down.

The shelter does everything it can to find homes for all the animals in its care, be they dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds or other small critters. They also run a number of adoption events and provide affordable veterinary services including neutering, vaccinations and micro chipping.

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In 2014 the organization began to harness the power of social media with incredible success. While most shelters tend to use dull images of melancholy looking orphans, HSU decided to make their adoption images a little more vibrant.

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The shelter’s social-media coordinator Guinnevere Shuster hoped the fun images would “change people’s options and perceptions of shelter dogs.” She also explained in an interview with TIME that she wanted to show “off the individual personalities of the dogs, instead of the sad behind-bars images that have become associated with shelter animals.”

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Shuster, who is also a professional photographer, began to snap the center’s lovable doggies in a photo booth. And her unique project has had incredible results, giving potential adopters a flavor of each dog’s character.

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The undeniably adorable photo-booth pictures range from the hilarious to the utterly endearing. Some of them feature fancy dress, while many feature hanging tongues and docile expressions.

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The lovable photos were posted to the organization’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, and the response has been overwhelming. Between the two accounts, the organization now has a combined following of over 100,000 people.

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Each photo post is accompanied with a small description of the dog it shows. In a similar way to an online-dating profile, these descriptions include likes and dislikes, as well as habits and personality traits.

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In her photo shoot, Boxer-mix Andie decided to show off a range of facial talents, including the fact that she can touch her nose with her tongue! According to the accompanying caption, Andie is “incredibly athletic and great at playing fetch and tug.”

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Meanwhile, little Sally chose to showcase her quirky fashion sense by accessorizing with a polkadot neckerchief. According to her bio, Sally “may come off a little shy and reserved but once she realizes you have the intellect to keep up, you’ll have a best friend for life.”

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High five, anyone? Louis the Labrador looked pretty sweet in his pictures as he raised a paw to the camera. The six-year-old dog was looking for “another chance at life,” wrote HSU.

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Shuster’s ingenious campaign has certainly captured the public’s attention. Many fans flock to the shelter’s social media pages to dote upon the captivating canines, and who can blame them?

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So it’s no surprise, then, that the amazing images have been credited as helping HSU reach a record number of adoptions. “We definitely attribute this photo campaign as a large part of this success, as they capture the unique personality of each animal,” explained special-event manager Rachel Kelly to TIME.

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And it looks like she’s not wrong, with a number of the campaign’s stars having found themselves with new homes following their moment in the spotlight. Consequently, even more of the hounds are getting the red-carpet treatment in the photo booth.

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Following the success of the photos, HSU has extended the campaign to include cats. However, it seems that felines aren’t as comfortable in front of the lens as their canine counterparts.

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Shuster admits cats are less willing to play ball for the camera. To get the best shot, she uses an “arsenal of treats and bribes,” as she told TIME.

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And while the images have given dog lovers on social media a reason to smile, the pictures have served a much more important purpose. In January 2016, HSU announced that in 2015, for the first time in their 55-year history, it had finally achieved a “no-kill” status year for both cats and dogs. The organization now hopes to continue that trend in 2016 and beyond so that no healthy cat or dog in its care is euthanized.

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