Pets available for adoption at Dane County Humane Society are seen frequently on three Madison television stations, talked about on two radio stations, pictured in local print publications, and featured on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. Our media partners and social media followers help local animals by sharing their stories, helping them find new homes, gathering funds to support their care, and so much more.
The pet segments have helped enhance the image of the shelter as a place where we treat the animals with loving care and expert behavior training so they may easily adapt to their new homes.
The idea of featuring DCHS animals on the media began eight decades ago in 1942 with Alexius Baas, the shelter’s education coordinator. Baas was also a University of Wisconsin graduate, and a jack of all trades. He was an accomplished writer and musician, worked as an actor and teacher, and was an influential humanitarian.
Baas broadcast a weekly, 10-minute radio program called Pet Corner, heard Sunday mornings on WIBA in Madison. The show included animal related poetry, feature stories, and interviews. Baas continued with the radio show until 1965 when health problems led him to turning it over to his wife Evelyn, who was a member of DCHS Board of Directors. She continued the broadcasts for several more years.
Madison’s print media also assisted DCHS in getting more animals adopted. Baas’ column “All Around the Town” in the Capital Times provided information on pets available for adoption and instructions on how to adopt and raise a pet.
In 1954, the Wisconsin State Journal started a Dog of the Week feature which ran in the newspaper every Thursday. This turned out to be a valuable source for DCHS when publicizing pets available for adoption.
A book called Pup-Pets, first published in 1966, served as another outlet for getting DCHS animals adopted. The pictures, taken by the State Journal’s Chief News Photographer Edwin Stein, included humorous, light-hearted captions on animals at DCHS.
Television also played a part in publicizing DCHS’s mission and getting pets put into loving homes. The earliest TV appearances were a collaboration between the shelter and local kennel and cat clubs. In 1983, WISC, Channel 3 in Madison, started a segment called Adopt-A-Pet on its midday show. This was a great success for DCHS animals. According to statistics, 95-percent of animals appearing on Adopt-A-Pet were adopted! Eventually, Adopt-A-Pet became Pet of the Week, and two other Madison TV stations – WMTV, Channel 15 and WKOW, Channel 27 – also started featuring pets available at the shelter. DCHS animals are now featured on all three of these stations regularly, keeping adoptable pets top-of-mind in our community.
Radio has also been a helpful tool for the shelter. Currently, WOLX, 94.9 FM, broadcasts Your New Best Friend on Tuesday mornings while the same day, WMMM, 105.5 FM, features Tail Wagging Tuesdays. As with the television segments, a new pet is spotlighted every week, updates are provided on the pet discussed the previous week, and events and fundraisers to help DCHS are also mentioned. It's a great way for local residents to learn about available pets on their drive to work.
As social media continues to grow as a way for organizations to connect directly with their supporters, DCHS has used Facebook and Instagram to publicize its adoptable pets and fundraising activities with tens of thousands of people every month.
The online publication Pawprints, the printed magazine Family Tails, and blog posts on the shelter’s website are other media sources that have strengthened the connection between DCHS, its donors, and potential adopters.
DCHS looks forward to continuing to partner with local media to communicate our good works, programs, and celebrate our people. Hopefully, this will lead to continued positive outcomes for adopters and an increase in valuable donations to keep the shelter on solid financial ground.