Stop gushing! (on Petfinder, in particular)

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#1
Reading Petfinder, while diverting, often makes my teeth hurt. The purple prose, baby-talk, shameles bs'ing is overwhelming after a while. Every dog "wonders why he/she can't be part of a family" (do dogs really wonder things?) Every former owner "didn't take the time to train X." Every large dog is really "a big baby." All dogs 'give lots of kisses," "is beautiful' and "loves to play.' And then there are the listings that are in the first person, ie, the dog is speaking directly to wouldbe adopters. I'm surprised more people don't drop dead of insulin shock reading these things. Please, I'm begging you: if you write a Petfinder ad, just be honest and clear. What's so hard about saying something like:

Bill is about 1 year old and, best guess, a beagle or beagle mix. He is neutered and weighs about 25lbs. We have had him examined by a vet and he is now up-to-date on basic vaccines, on heartworm preventative. He will walk on a leash with some pulling, and sits on command. He's been temperament-tested and does not have the patience or tolerance we look for when adopting out to families with small children. He does test well with dogs, but appears predatory with cats.

Instead of:

Princess is a SWEET, SWEET girl with a capital S! She loves everyone, although she is a little shy when you first meet her! Princess needs to be an only dog so that she can get all the love to herself! She loves her kong and other toys and really enjoys cuddling, snuggling, and giving LOTS of big wet kisses!

or

Mmm! This milk chocolate treat acts almost as delicious as she looks! It's hard to take your eyes off this beauty she appears so yummy! Bounding about with lots of energy she would love a home with lots of room or a human friend who loved to go for long walks out in the park. Pack a picnic basket full of treats for you and her and come pick this supermodel up for a permanent date!

I'm not exagerating, these are real ads. I particularly like the Princess one, where they managed to slip in what is likely dog-aggression in a way that makes it sound like she just wants all you luuuuv to herself. Yes, that's one way to look at it.
 

Julie

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#4
I think it takes special caring people to work rescue, therefore the ads may seem childish or mushy to "harder" people. They are also trying to "sell" the dog to find him a permanent loving home.
The ads don't make my teeth hurt,... maybe you should see a dentist. :D
 

bluezano

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#6
Given the number of dogs that are put down in shelters every year, I would assume that the rescues and shelters would try any method to attempt to give their dogs a chance at a forever home, including sweet with a capital S, picnics and such.

While it might not be "just the facts", some people approach dog ownership from the heart, rather than the mind, and these ads might appeal to them.
 
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#8
1) The ends don't justify the means. Marketing and emotional manipulation are how ad execs sell toothpaste and pet stores sell puppies, they're not appropriate ways to attract people to your shelter or dogs. They play into exactly what shelters and rescues are supposed to avoid - impulse buying, emotional and thoughtless choices, the kind that led to the purchase and subsquent surrender of these same animals. People thinking 'with their heart' is why I hear stories like this: the 28-year-old guy living with his frail grandmother and working 12 hours a day buys a second Rottie after having to euthanize the first for biting grammie; the 35-year-old man who travels constantly for business and has a busy wife with a career insists on buying not one but two Mastiffs; the pregnant girl who adopts a high-strung, one-person lap dog. Everyone thinks with their heart when they go to adopt a dog. The shelters and rescues aren't supposed to encourage that, they're supposed to add common sense, not burble about chocolate treats and kisses.

2) Bitter? Hard? Wow, for a bunch of warm, soft, open people, some of you really know how to talk nasty. It is possible to disagree with someone without being rude and inappropriate. bluezano managed it, for which I thank her.
 

LhasaLover

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#9
It's called "positive spin" and it's used for everything in the world when we're trying to pass off neutral or negative information in a positive manner. ;)

Some of it *is* a little over the top, but if they put "just the facts, Ma'am" in all those ads what do you think the response rate would be? Just because people respond to those ads doesn't mean they get the animal, either. The rescue I work with seriously screens all applicants, and I know a lot of others do, too.

The ads are designed to get an inquiry, which may or may not turn into the person getting that animal. After they contact rescue and are screened, some of them are switched over to better suited animals. The end result *does* justify the means.
 

mamasobuco

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#10
Given the number of dogs that are put down in shelters every year, I would assume that the rescues and shelters would try any method to attempt to give their dogs a chance at a forever home, including sweet with a capital S, picnics and such.

While it might not be "just the facts", some people approach dog ownership from the heart, rather than the mind, and these ads might appeal to them.
This pretty much sums it up blue. I write petfinder bios for my fosters and YES, they are mushie and gushing with wonderful things. Part of my job is to get to know the pups so that I can tell potential adoptors about them. In this process, I tend to fall in love with every one of them and those bios come straight from my heart. It is also very good way to help people feel that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you see a puppy in person. These bios are much like personal ads IMO. For Goodness sake, we are trying to find them homes.
Just a little side note, we get WAY more calls and emails on the dogs with first person bios. :p
 

Serena

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#11
Having been involved in rescue for quite a few years now I have written my share of bios for adoptable dogs..

For the most part I tend to take in the "special needs" dogs that is those with little training, socialization, behavioral problems, etc...In other words for the most part the dogs I work with and foster if they are able to be rehabiliated and adopted out many of them require a more experienced owner...because of this the bios I write tend to reflect the dogs strenghts and weaknesses..so potential pet owners know exactly what they are getting into right from the get-go.

Is either method right or wrong? No, just because a bio written up on a dog is all positive does not mean the rescuer does not discuss any problems within the first phone call or email..Just because a bio points out things the dog needs to work on does not mean it can't come from the heart.

In the end how a bio is written up is of little importance..whats more important is extensive screening of potential pet owners to ensure that each dog adopted out goes to a worthy forever home.
 

noludoru

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#12
Casablanca does have a point. They all tend to sound the same when they're written like that, and I've seen plenty of ads that posess almost no real information, but are so sweet they could be mistaken for chocolate. It's great if people want to write a cutesy ad, and as long as they provide real information about the dog's strengths and weaknesses as well as past history (if applicable) I don't care if they write the ad in netspeak.

I just get irritated at the ones that provide false information, or the ones that provide almost no information (Cookie is a Beagle/Pomeranian mix, cute as a button, and waiting to go to a new home? Apply here to be Cookie's forever home!).
 

Melissa_W

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#13
Have you ever interviewed for a job? I assume you have. And if you got the job, you know it's the same way. You have to sell yourself. You talk about your strong points. It's the same way with the ads.
 
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#14
In regards to the crazy ads: I've never applied for a job by sending out resumes on scented pink paper covered in unicorns to 'cute' my way into a job, or gone to an interview with my medical bills in hand to show how much I need the position. Which is only sensible because any employer in their right mind would react like I was crazy if I did. There's a difference between positive spin and emotional blackmail.

In regards to the less crazy but still evasive ads (Rex's first owners couldn't be bothered to train him, but he's full of love! Prefers to be a single pet) sales methods are inappropriate to adopting out living creatures. Shelters and rescues should use sales to publicize themselves and their work, but their core work, matching people with animals, should be sacrosanct.
 

Melissa_W

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In regards to the crazy ads: I've never applied for a job by sending out resumes on scented pink paper covered in unicorns to 'cute' my way into a job, or gone to an interview with my medical bills in hand to show how much I need the position. Which is only sensible because any employer in their right mind would react like I was crazy if I did. There's a difference between positive spin and emotional blackmail.

In regards to the less crazy but still evasive ads (Rex's first owners couldn't be bothered to train him, but he's full of love! Prefers to be a single pet) sales methods are inappropriate to adopting out living creatures. Shelters and rescues should use sales to publicize themselves and their work, but their core work, matching people with animals, should be sacrosanct.
Neither have I, and I didn't say anything even remotely like that. :confused: I was referring to "positive spin". I haven't seen many (if any) ads that are as ridiculous as the ones you've seen, I guess. I think most rescues do a fine job matching dogs with owners. In fact, some of them are too picky, imo.
 

MafiaPrincess

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#16
Guess this makes me cold too, but the mushy ads have turned me off petfinder.. When I have inquired on dogs that had mushy bios, I was told they weren't the right dog for me before I'd told them half a sentence. I think they should be a little more honest. And a little off topic, I wish some weren't so stuck on having to have breed experience to even dare contact single breed rescue about their specific breed. Mushy bio sucks someone in to be told dog isn't for you. Maybe if the ad was straight forward, it would be clearer what that dog actually needed in a home. *shrug*
 

noludoru

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#17
There's a difference between positive spin and emotional blackmail.

In regards to the less crazy but still evasive ads (Rex's first owners couldn't be bothered to train him, but he's full of love! Prefers to be a single pet) sales methods are inappropriate to adopting out living creatures. Shelters and rescues should use sales to publicize themselves and their work, but their core work, matching people with animals, should be sacrosanct.
:hail:
 

mjb

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#18
I have heard more complaints about having a hard time qualifying for a pet through pet rescues. I don't know if it's the same rescues that advertise their fosters as positively as possible or not. Some have extensive screening processes, though.
 

Melissa_W

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I have heard more complaints about having a hard time qualifying for a pet through pet rescues. I don't know if it's the same rescues that advertise their fosters as positively as possible or not. Some have extensive screening processes, though.
They sure do... I'm automatically disqualified from at least half the rescues around here because I don't have a fenced yard. :rolleyes: As if that automatically makes you a good dog owner. Nevermind the fact that you could just dump your dog in the yard and totally ignore it... but I digress...
 

LhasaLover

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#20
As to the ad writing, it's a basic tool of sales to evoke an emotional response in someone to motivate them to buy. I would classify dogs as an emotional acquisition so it's particularly important to use that tool with them, especially since virtually all of them are adult dogs, not cute little puppies.

As to rescue screening, many older dogs come with issues and it's very important to know the applicant can handle those issues; otherwise you're going to end up with the dog being surrendered again because someone couldn't handle the unhousebroken dog, the dog that doesn't get along with other animals or kids, the dog that has aggression issues.

About 30 years ago I put an ad in the paper for a large & beautiful white German Shepherd mix that had become extremely possessive of me, to the point that he was lunging at little children that passed me and even going after my family if there was any physical contact. I was too inexperienced at that time to handle him, so I put in the ad that no one with kids could have him and you wouldn't believe how many people with kids called me and said they wanted a guard dog for them. :rolleyes:
 

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