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Petfinder.com’s Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays Q&A on Facebook Dec. 13

Learn how to help homeless pets during the holidays and participate in  Petfinder.com’s Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays from 3-4 pm on Tuesday, Dec. 13 pm on Facebook.

This year, over 600 shelters and rescue groups from across North America are participating in this exciting venture that is expanding this year from the web to Facebook.

According to Jane Harell, associate producer, Petfinder.com, in it’s three year history, the program has helped raise awareness and create resources for shelters and rescue years. It  was first created in 2009, inspired by author and petfinder blogger Greg Kincaid’s book and movie, “A Dog Named Christmas,” about a young man who sets out to convince his community to participate in a local animal shelter’s inaugural “Adopt a Dog for Christmas Program.” That movie, which  aired on the Hallmark channel in 2009, is not a part of this year’s promotion.

That idea proved to be a natural extension to Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holiday campaign, where people are encouraged to foster for a short time, a week, or perhaps even a few days. By participating in Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays shelters find a way to connect with these short-term helpers while helping them cope with short staffing at the facilities during the holidays. It also provides a way for the pet’s regular foster “mom” or “dad” to get some respite time.

Sara Kent, petfinder.com’s director of shelter outreach, will answer questions about becoming a pet foster parent, volunteering at a shelter, how to set up a fun and unique awareness campaign, and simple ways to trigger donations to help pets through Facebook. To participate, people need to log in to Facebook and “like” petfinder’s  page.

Harell said, Facebook can be a great tool for bringing attention to homeless pets.  “It’s all about getting adoptable pets out there — and that’s what sharing adoptable pets’ Petfinder profiles on Facebook can do.  We’ve had a strong online community of pet parents and advocates on Facebook for several years now. Last year we created a Facebook evite where proud foster parents could show off pictures and stories about the pets they were fostering. We’ve also held free live Q&As on our Facebook page before covering topics like training, adoption advice, pet health, etc, but never for Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays, so we thought it was time.”

Harell points out that “We have three great promotions that are helping pets via Facebook. To find them, all you have to do is visit our Facebook page and look at the tabs on the left hand side. Right now we’re doing a daily giveaway where you can win $250 for the shelter or rescue group of your choice and also a photo gallery where pet parents can upload photos of their adopted pets. Iams is donating meals for each photo that’s uploaded.”

If a Petfinder member shelter or rescue group has questions about the program, they can contact their Petfinder outreach team. Harell explained shelters and rescue groups each have a Petfinder shelter outreach team that they can contact with questions about special Petfinder promotions or the site in general.

Petfinder currently has over 13,600 shelters and rescue groups that list adoptable pets. According to their website, Petfinder.com is the virtual home of 357,244 adoptable pets from 13,693 adoption groups.

Petfinder.com serves as a research database for those seeking pets, and a place where shelters can post a photo, descriptions, and in many cases a video of the pet. If someone is interested in that particular cat, dog or other animals, the website has the contact info to obtain more information. People that want to  to adopt a pet enter their search criteria, such as size, gender, breed and age, and get back a list of adoptable pets ranked in proximity to the searcher’s zip code. Each shelter or rescue operation has their own page which is updated by volunteers and staff themselves.

Betsy Saul and her husband, Jared developed the site in January 1996 as a New Year’s Resolution to help homeless pets. The site, the first searchable directory for homeless pets, went national in August 1998. The site was acquired by Discovery Communications Inc. in 2006.

A press release on their site, petfinder.com, “Give Shelter Pets New Byte,” credits their sponsors for allowing them to continue the service at no charge.  Animal shelters and rescue groups can register to join Petfinder.com online and can start entering pets the same day. Their website credits their sponsors:

  • BISSELL Homecare, Inc., a manufacturer of home cleaning and floor care products;
  • PETCO, a national pet supply retailer that sponsors in-store adoptions and provides coupon books for new adopters;
  • The Animal Rescue Site, which contributes a percentage of sales ofPetfinder merchandise to the Petfinder.com Foundation:
  • Merial, maker of the number one veterinary-recommended flea and tick preventative FRONTLINE®, and heartworm preventative HEARTGARD®.

According to their website,  Petfinder.com was named one of the 300 best Web sites by Forbes magazine and one of the top 100 sites by Family PC magazine. It has repeatedly gotten top ratings from Internet tracking companies, including the most visited site among all U.S Web sites in the Hitwise Lifestyle – Pets and Animals category. The site has also been featured in most major magazines and newspapers, and their have been features on The Today Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In 2008, Time magazine named it as one of the 50 best Web sites.

According to the press release about petfinder.com’s founding, Jared Saul says, “Petfinder is a virtual shelter.It is being able to sit down with your family and visit hundreds of shelters, get to know the pets, and not have to drive all around to do it. When someone finally does go to meet a pet because of Petfinder.com, they are more likely to be well suited for each other. What better use of the Web?”