Three of the Internet’s most beloved pets are teaming up to help the millions of cats and dogs in shelters and rescue groups across the country find loving homes.

Social Media Superstars Lend Star Power To Homeless Cats and Dogs
Social Media Superstars Lend Star Power To Homeless Cats and Dogs

Fashion icon Toast Meets World, globally recognized pianist Keyboard Cat and life of the party Hamilton Pug are lending their star power to “Start A Story. Adopt,” a new public service advertising (PSA) campaign from The Shelter Pet Project, a collaborative effort between Maddie's Fund, The Humane Society of the United States and the Ad Council.

Toast Meets World, Keyboard Cat and Hamilton Pug receive millions of views, likes and shares on social media, but most people don’t know they were adopted. Created pro bono by J. Walter Thompson New York, these new PSAs share these pets’ unique stories, which all began in shelters and rescue groups, and highlight the special bonds between the pets and their families. Prospective owners are encouraged to visit TheShelterPetProject.org to learn more about the adoption process and search for adoptable pets at shelters and rescue groups near them. Adoption advocates are also encouraged to support the effort on social media by using the hashtag #StartAStoryAdopt to share stories of how their shelter pets changed their lives for the better and to encourage others to start their own stories by adopting an amazing shelter dog or cat today.

Video: #StartAStoryAdopt | Shelter Pet Adoption

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS said: “Millions of healthy, adoptable dogs and cats enter shelters across America each year and are just waiting for a special home. Unfortunately, many of those animals never find one. We hope Toast, Keyboard Cat and Hamilton Pug inspire people to support their local animal shelters and start their own stories by adopting a pet in need of a home.”

There is a common misconception that there is something wrong with shelter pets; however, the majority of these pets end up in shelters and rescue groups through no fault of their own. “Moving” and “landlord issues” are among the top reasons animals find themselves in shelters.

“This campaign comes at a watershed moment for homeless pets,” said Amy Zeifang of the Maddie’s Fund Executive Leadership Team. “Thanks to the increased popularity of shelter and rescue group pets, we’re close to reaching our goal of ending pet homelessness in the country. In fact, if every community in the United States would just adopt six more pets each month, every healthy and treatable shelter dog or cat in America would have a home.”

The TV, radio, print, outdoor and web PSAs will be distributed this week to national media and will air in donated time and space per the Ad Council’s model. Over the coming months, the campaign will continue to build awareness around the issue through an extensive social media campaign, which will include original and user-generated content encouraging people to share their shelter pet adoption stories. Through the Ad Council’s first partnership with CrowdTap, the campaign will also leverage the marketing platform’s extensive network of social media influencers to spread the word about shelter pet adoption and the new PSA campaign.

“J. Walter Thompson is proud to partner with The Shelter Pet Project and The Ad Council to champion the adoption of shelter pets,” said Gustavo Martinez, Worldwide Chairman & CEO of J. Walter Thompson Company. “By showcasing the wonderful success stories of our adopted celebrity pets and the happiness they bring to thousands of people each day, we hope that prospective owners can see the difference they can make and choose a shelter pet as their next companion.”

The Shelter Pet Project is the first national PSA campaign to bring together animal welfare organizations and shelters across the country with one unified goal – to increase pet adoption. Since launching in 2009, The Shelter Pet Project has received more than $272 million in donated media. In the past year alone, there have been more than 700,000 searches for adoptable pets on TheShelterPetProject.org.

“It’s heartbreaking that so many healthy and treatable pets are needlessly euthanized every year,” added Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “Pets can bring so much love and comfort to a family, and I urge those thinking about adopting to make shelters and rescue groups the first place they turn.”

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