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Pets for the Bargain Hunter

You can't put a price on the value of pets, but that doesn’t keep some people from looking for freebies.

Few realize that shelters have the best bargains for animals—even better than the seemingly unbeatable deal offered by “Free to Good Home” ads, as these posters from the Humane Society of Missouri demonstrate. Developed with the help of 501creative, a communications firm specializing in creative strategies for nonprofits, the posters are on display in the shelter’s adoption areas and get-acquainted rooms.They let potential adopters know that the local papers’ ads promising free puppies and kittens are a classic example of bait-and-switch—new pets not obtained from the shelter come with all sorts of hidden costs.

“We realized another use for them when adoption counselors started using them to illustrate to potential adopters all that goes into each pet,” says Brigid O’Brien, the humane society’s marketing coordinator.“If someone balks at a puppy being $95, the adoption counselor can point to the poster and explain that if all the services the humane society performs on that puppy were done by the new adopter, the cost would easily exceed $200.”

These materials were developed by the Humane Society of Missouri and 501creative, inc. The posters may not be reproduced, copied, or altered without written permission. If you are interested in using these materials for your organization, email


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