ORGANIZING TO PLAN A SUCCESSFUL
INTERNATIONAL HOMELESS ANIMALS’ DAY
STEP 1: START EARLY!
Early planning is the key to a successful event. Planning an IHAD observance will be well worth your efforts, and an incredibly rewarding personal experience.
Once you have decided what type of event you are hosting for International Homeless Animals’ Day you will want to recruit volunteers to help with a variety of different tasks throughout your event.
STEP 2: RECRUIT VOLUNTEERS
Find people and businesses in your community willing to help create a successful IHAD event.
- Contact local government, veterinarians, schools, colleges, animal shelters and rescues, city animal control offices, animal-friendly businesses, and fellow animal advocates.
- Give local businesses the chance to get involved. They may be willing to donate items that can be used as raffle prizes or giveaways, such as gift certificates, dog leashes, collars, or toys.
Once you have assembled a working group, organize a planning meeting.
STEP 3: THE MEETING
At the meeting, assign tasks to everyone. Some tasks to focus on include:
- Securing a location for your event (obtaining a permit, if needed)
- Assembling materials
- Finding potential sponsors of the event
- Communicating with the mayor and other city officials
- Soliciting speakers and emcees
- Contacting the media
STEP 4: DEFINE YOUR GOALS AND SET THE TONE FOR THE DAY
It is crucial that from the beginning you are realistic about your goals. Is your event to be modest or more ambitious?
For instance, if you choose to incorporate a candlelight vigil, the tone of the day may tend to be somber. The Vigil conveys the plight of homeless dogs and cats in a tangible and dramatic way. By localizing the numbers of animals that are euthanized in your area each year, you can really drive home the seriousness of pet overpopulation. A candlelight Vigil held at dusk is a powerful visual for everyone involved, including those who might just catch a glimpse from afar.
With the Vigil as the base of the event, there are many more ways to convey your messages. Many sponsoring organizations hold all day events, such as a shelter open house, pet fair with tables and booths on the day of the Vigil, mobile pet adoptions, dog washes, bake sales, pet parades, or sales at humane thrift shops. Daytime events often increase attendance and offset the somber Vigil event. Proceeds from pet fairs are often directed towards humane societies or spay/neuter programs.
STEP 1: OBTAIN A LOCATION FOR YOUR IHAD EVENT
Choose your location carefully. An ideal venue should be easily accessible, highly visible, and strongly trafficked. You want people to see what you’re doing and experience its impact. Try to find a place where pets are welcome, as many participants like to bring their pets to the event.
Be sure to obtain any necessary permits and confirm the date and time with the proper authorities. Here are some suggestions for locations:
- Animal shelter or Veterinary clinic
- Dog Park
- Public Park
- State capitol
- County courthouse or City hall complex
- College or High school campus
- Civic center
- Mall concourse / Outdoor market
- Busy downtown area
STEP 2: REACH OUT FOR PARTICIPANTS
Recruit a local television or radio personality as the Master of Ceremonies.
Find an eloquent keynote speaker as the Master of Ceremonies. For instance: mayor, county commissioner or city council member, state legislator or county supervisor, shelter director, shelter worker or animal control officer; humane educator or veterinarian.
Plan the program and speakers well in advance. Activity suggestions are included in this packet.
STEP 3: PROMOTION, INCLUDING SOCIAL MEDIA, PRESS RELEASES/NEWSPAPERS
Promoting your event is crucially important. If you don’t promote, few people will show up!
If you promote your event you have a better chance of reaching a larger segment of your local community. Be sure all promotional materials include the time and location of the event. You may have greater participation if you also highlight key speakers or activities planned for the occasion.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Visit co-ops, coffee shops, music stores, book shops, restaurants, bus stops, banks, grocery stores, local colleges—anywhere people congregate—and place flyers everywhere you can.
- Obtain permission to hang a large banner over a main street in town or over a shelter and any other animal-related premises.
- Post notices in animal shelters, pet supply stores, grocery stores, veterinarian offices, malls, libraries, and other public places to promote your event.
- Promote on the Internet by announcing your event on appropriate email lists, with posts to message boards, blogs, and social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc…and by creating a web page publicizing your event.
What better way to enlighten others about International Homeless Animals’ Day, the pet overpopulation epidemic, and the spay/neuter and adoption solution than by spreading the word through social media? Please promote your IHAD event on social media using the hashtag #IHAD or #InternationalHomelessAnimalsDay. A few examples follow.
Facebook: ISAR encourages our friends and supporters to join us on Facebook and share our International Homeless Animals’ Day 2022 Facebook Event page. Sharing our event page will garner support for the many organizations and individuals hosting events around the world. ISAR’s Facebook Event page will include up-to-date information and confirmed International Homeless Animals’ Day 2022 observances as they are made available to us.
Twitter: Tweet all about it! Join ISAR on Twitter and share, tweet and promote International Homeless Animals’ Day events.
Instagram: Include your International Homeless Animals’ Day event photos on Instagram and tag ISAR (@isaronline) so we may share in your special event throughout the Day.
Confirmed IHAD events will also be listed on our website, and can be shared on blogs, websites, press releases, social media, etc…
The first step of pitching a story is to fax a one-page event press release to the appropriate person in the newsroom. The release should include a who/what/where/when/why.
Next, create a set of “talking points.” Talking points are a series of important facts designed to convey your argument. For instance, you will want to discuss the date, time and place of your International Homeless Animals’ Day observance, as well as the reason for the event.
Include in your talking points what spaying and neutering means to your local community. Finally, think of any other local issues of interest, such as an epidemic of feral cats or increased incidents of animal cruelty and neglect.
With a carefully constructed story you can make news reporters care about the plight of homeless animals just as you do. You can convince them that a story must be written or aired, and that they are the person to do it.
Once you have sent your event press release, you can follow up with a phone call. Make sure to include the assignment/news editors at your local television stations on your list of people to contact. Think of local shows that might want to cover the event, including those on radio and cable access television. Introduce yourself, ask them if they have a brief moment to talk, and politely reference the event release that you sent them. Then, use your talking points to coax them into attending the IHAD observance.
Try to get a news crew out to cover your event.
After you make contact, be persistent.
To top off your event, ask the editorial page editor of your local daily newspaper to write an editorial in favor of increased funding for spay/neuter assistance programs. Editorials are a superb way to reach a wide audience, including elected officials, through the voice of the newspaper. If the editorial page editor declines, offer your own Op-Ed piece for the newspaper to print. In most cases, they will print it, and thousands of people will read it.
Finally, don’t forget to thank personally all the press who cover the event. It’s never too early to be thinking about next year!
Writing a powerful press release
Send out a News Press release to all the contacts on your press list so that you can excite the media about covering International Homeless Animals’ Day and have them list the event on their calendar.
Let them know (especially local TV and Radio) about available interviews with local experts on homeless animals. Arrange TV access, if possible, to local shelters to show the faces of homeless animals and provide them with your own concerned voice.
Imagine a very busy person with a huge stack of mail, a very short attention span, and a very big wastebasket…that’s the person you’re trying to reach! Thus, your press release should be:
Short. 1 page maximum.
Attention-getting. Use brightly colored paper, or some other attention-getting device. Some creative press releases have attached them to a helium balloon and delivering it to the newsroom, or delivering it with a stuffed cat toy—with the news advisory placed inside. Be creative—you’ll get noticed!
Easy to read quickly. Laser-print your press release, and be sure to include lots of “white space” (i.e., the page is not so jammed full of information that there is no blank space).
Packed with the 5 W’s in crisp, catchy phrases:
WHO: Who is sponsoring the event? Who is the contact person and what is their phone number? Names of celebrities, hosts and community leaders should be printed in ALL CAPS. Emphasize photo oppor- tunities and interviews with experts.
WHAT: Describe the event in brief, and paint an exciting picture of what will happen. Include the visual angle—any photo opportunities that might attract the attention of a potential reader.
WHY: Why is this event important? Why would your newspaper, TV station, or radio station come? Why should your community care?
WHEN: Time, date
You must follow up the press release with a phone call (or several phone calls) and call attention to it: “Did the writer/city desk editor/news director get the press release? Who will she/he be sending to cover the event? Can I tell you more about the event and some of the groups that are co-convening the event with us?”
The press release should get to the calendar listings editor several weeks in advance. Media you hope to attend the event should receive the press release around one week before the event. Any sooner and they’ll lose it; any later and it will be too late.
Letters to elected officials – Proclamations
Proclamations are a great way to educate the public about a specific issue and bring attention to a cause. A proclamation is an effective tool for gaining public recognition of your event because it carries the full support of a key government official in your state, municipality or community.
If you would like to request a proclamation from your city, county or state, first locate the website for this entity. On the website, you may find a tab called “Ceremonial” or “Forms,” under which the proclamation request guidelines may be located. Follow the specific guidelines for requesting a proclamation.
We have provided a sample cover letter you can write to your city, county or state’s government office in request of a proclamation. Your letter should be prepared on the letterhead stationery of your organization for greater influence.
You may wish to incorporate into your letter how the dog and cat overpopulation crisis affects your area.
Sample letter to a Governor, Mayor, or other public official
The Honorable _________ of (state) or Mayor of (city)
International Homeless Animals’ Day and Candlelight Vigils and other related activities will be observed on August 20, 2022. Humane societies, animal protection organizations and others nationwide are commemorating this day to bring attention to the tragic situation of dog and cat overpopulation.
The overpopulation crisis condemns millions of companion animals to death every year in our country’s animal shelters. Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent every year to kill the homeless and unwanted animals brought into this world by irresponsible owners.
We, as a nation of people who pride ourselves on caring for the less fortunate, need to educate our communities on the importance of spay/neuter and pet adoption to stop the killings.
We are writing to ask you to help end this tragedy by signing the enclosed Proclamation declaring August 20, 2022, International Homeless Animals’ Day.
I will contact your office late in July to discuss the Proclamation. In the interim I can be reached at (phone number).
When considering the nature and scope of activities that can be conducted as part of, and related to, International Homeless Animals’ Day, the choices are almost unlimited. Below we present suggestions for activities, while recognizing that all, or perhaps many, will not be suitable or practical for some event coordinators to utilize.
It doesn’t matter how small or large your event is, helping animals and getting involved is what is important. Help us shed light on the crisis of dog and cat overpopulation and the urgent need for affordable spay/neuter and adoption programs in an effort to halt the suffering of unwanted companion animals and feral and stray cats and dogs that have been abandoned and left to fend for themselves.
Host an International Homeless Animals’ Day Candlelight Vigil
The International Homeless Animals’ Day Candlelight Vigil is an opportunity to shed light on the global homeless animal population to the public, elected officials and the media and to honor the many animals that die needlessly each year for the simple fact they do not have a home.
Candlelight vigils effectively convey the plight of homeless dogs and cats in a tangible and dramatic way. With the Vigil as the core of the event, many sponsoring organizations hold all-day events, such as a shelter open house, pet adoption fair with tables and booths on the day of the Vigil, mobile pet adoptions, concerts, and pet parades.
Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics
Organize a low cost spay/neuter day, weekend, or month. Providing sterilization surgeries at a reduced cost or free maximizes the number of animals spayed/neutered. Often, local veterinarians will donate their time and perform the procedures at a discounted cost. Another option is to offer free or low-cost spay/neuter vouchers to commemorate the Day.
Microchipping as a means of permanent identification offers a multitude of benefits to animals, caretakers, and the general public.
Microchips are invaluable for reuniting lost pets with their owners, and microchipping community populations of dogs and cats provides a means of maintaining information on each animal and can greatly assist those caring for them.
Vaccinations are important to improve the health and well-being of both owned and free-roaming dogs and cats and have a positive effect on local public health and safety. Vaccination clinics can be held at veterinary offices, animal shelters, or in non-traditional settings, such as municipal parks, pet fairs, and pet supply stores. Drive/walk-thru rabies vaccination clinics often take place in shopping mall, municipal building and shelter parking lots.
Shelter Open House
International Homeless Animals’ Day provides the perfect opportunity to open the doors and invite the public into your shelter/rescue/etc. to see all of the wonderful pets you have waiting to be adopted. An open house allows the public the chance to meet the animals and possibly find their new best friend. It also gives you the chance to show the public the importance of being a responsible caretaker and the importance of spaying/neutering companion animals.
Off-Site Adoption Event Ideas
Hosting an off-site adoption event in a popular, high-traffic venue can increase adoptions. Consider these places to hold your adoption event: pet supply stores (that don’t sell animals), amphitheater, county courthouse or city hall complex, college or high school campus, community center and parks. Consider adding other activities to your event for example:
Tri-County Animal Rescue Center hosted an adoption event at Memorial Park in Clarion, Pennsylvania. The family-friendly and pet-friendly event included a blessing of the animals, pet parade, low-cost vaccine clinic, information booths, and several speakers, including veterinarians who spotlighted the plight of homeless animals and encouraged the spaying/neutering and adoption of pets.
In conjunction with local animal shelters, a retail store in Fortaleza, Brazil held a two-day adoption event at three different store locations.
Educational and Awareness Events
Through increased awareness and education about the importance of spay/neuter and adoption the suffering and death of homeless dogs and cats can be greatly reduced.
Individuals and others can also get involved in the Day with online webinars, informational tables in high traffic areas, or a spay/neuter and adoption display at a local store, library, school or other public place.
Outstanding Achievement Award. Present an award of outstanding achievement to individuals or groups which have made commendable efforts on behalf of homeless animals in your community. We recommend offering one youth award and one adult award. Possible candidates are shelter personnel, shelter volunteers, humane educators, veterinarians who offer low cost spay/neuter services, etc.
What others have done
Over the years, ISAR has seen an increase in IHAD participation from organizations and companies other than those in the animal rights/protection fields. Some examples follow:
The Reus City Council in Tarragona, Spain launched a platform on its municipal website with photos of dogs and cats available for adoption from local municipal animal shelters.
The Budapest Police Force, in Hungary arranged for a photo shoot with the dogs and cats from REX Animal Shelter in an effort to help them find homes. Photos were published on the police force and shelter’s social media pages.
Firefighters of the 37th State Fire Unit in Pavlograd and State Emergency Services (SES) of Kamianske, Ukraine, united to hold a photo session with homeless animals from the Pavlograd City Animal Shelter. The photos were posted on the animal shelter’s social media pages and were also published by local media outlets.
Congressman Daniel Donizet of the Federal District of Brazil used the occasion of International Homeless Animals’ Day to file eleven bills at the Legislative Chamber of the Federal District. The proposed measures address free castration, combating ill-treatment of animals and support for institutions that care for abandoned animals.
On the occasion of IHAD, the Mayor of Chania, Greece, authorized installation of food and water stations for homeless pets within its administrative boundaries.
Cuban artists, musicians, models and social media influencers, motivated to help homeless animals, united with Cuba Animal Welfare group (BAC) for a photo session at a pet adoption fair at the University of Havana.
To increase exposure of animals available for adoption in Hong Kong, Deliveroo, an online food delivery service for households, partnered with Hong Kong Saving Cats and Dogs Association (HKSCDA) to produce eye-catching stickers with photos and information about dogs and cats available for adoption. The photos were affixed to food delivery bags that more than 200 delivery staff carried throughout Hong Kong during the food delivery process for the entire month of August.
In Bolivia, the Cochabamba Branch of the Bolivian Red Cross provided food to more than 3,000 stray dogs and cats and volunteers built 25 dog houses that were placed on the streets for stray dogs.
Mexico’s national soccer team, Alebrijes de Oaxaca, collected food and supplies for their local shelter at the stadium prior to their game.
The Rotary Club’s youth group, Interact Club Of Valmiki used the occasion of IHAD to feed stray dogs in Gaindakot, Nepal.
Pawssion Project, Philippines, hosted an “IHAD 2021 Webinar Series.” The educational week-long event streamed live on the organizations Facebook and YouTube channel and focused on the causes and solutions to dog and cat overpopulation and the need for stronger and more effective laws to help homeless animals.
The Department of Education of the city of Balkhash, Kazakhstan organized a charity event on IHAD in which all schools of the city took part. The Balkhash schoolchildren together with their parents collected a four-day supply of food for the local animal shelter.
More that you can do
Set up a donation bin or canister in your store or office and collect pet food, supplies or donations.
Work with your local Meals on Wheels program or community food pantry and establish a pet food bank for citizens who may be struggling to feed their pets.
Musicians and bands can get involved by hosting a benefit concert and raise awareness about pet overpopulation.
Pet groomers can help save animals by providing services free of charge on IHAD to local shelters. A dog/cat that is groomed and clean is more likely to find a new home.
Use social media to share your local shelters photos of pet available for adoption.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR INTERNATIONAL
HOMELESS ANIMALS’ DAY EVENT
ISAR’s International Homeless Animals’ Day observances continue to grow in size and content each year all around the globe. While we wish we could attend every event taking place around the world, instead we ask that you give us a glimpse into your IHAD observance by sharing with us your photos, videos, newspaper articles, blogs, etc… We are grateful to receive any feedback you can offer. Vigil activities and photos will be featured in future ISAR publications (space permitting.) Your feedback will assist us in developing effective future IHAD programs to fight pet overpopulation and promote spaying and neutering.
Here are a few helpful tips for photographing your International Homeless Animals’ Day observance to get the most out of your photos.
- Show us some of your IHAD activities. For example, capture your Mayor reading ISAR’s International Homeless Animals’ Day Proclamation to the crowd, snap participants with their furry companions marching in your pet walk while holding spay/neuter signs, show the crowd gathered together with their lit candles shedding light on pet overpopulation, feature your event team handing out educational materials about the importance of spay/neuter, etc…
- Select the best photos to share. Be sure they are clear, not blurry! We’ll reproduce some of them in our Newsletter.
- Please include relevant information with your photos to ensure proper credit: Name of photographer, names of people and animals in the photo, date when the photo was taken, location, and a short caption.
- Tell us what makes your International Homeless Animals’ Day event special! Give us a sense of your community rallying behind you and working together, and tender moments of solidarity.
INTERNATIONAL HOMELESS ANIMALS’ DAY FEEDBACK FORM
Please submit to:
Email: Contact @ ISARonline.org; USPS: ISAR, PO Box F, Clarks Summit, PA 18411
Organization Name: ______________________________________________________
Following your International Homeless Animals’ Day (IHAD) observance, please promptly complete this brief form and return it to ISAR. Your information will assist ISAR in developing future effective IHAD event programs to fight companion animal overpopulation and promote spaying/neutering. We will also use the information to report on IHAD events in upcoming newsletters, and online community sharing as space permits.
1. Approximately how many people attended your IHAD observance? _______
2. Did your Governor sign the IHAD Proclamation? _______
3. Did your Mayor sign the IHAD Proclamation? _______
4. What media coverage (newspaper, radio, television) did your IHAD event receive?
5. What activities did you find were most effective in bringing to light the problem of pet overpopulation?
6. What was your general impression of how effective your event was in educating on the problems of pet overpopulation and the solution of spaying/neutering?
7. What suggestions can we offer to future IHAD coordinators for a successful IHAD observance? (This could include ways to increase media coverage, increase attendance, as well as activity suggestions, poems, songs, etc.)
We would appreciate receiving copies of any print media coverage your IHAD observance received. We would also welcome original vigil/IHAD event photographs and video.