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In Practice: Good Samaritan Postcards

Try as they might, Hallmark card writers couldn’t ever come close to crafting a message as heartwarming as the one in this postcard. Developed by Kate Pullen when she was the director of the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria in Virginia, the card was designed to thank people who care enough to pick up strays and deliver them to the shelter.

As short as it was sweet, the mailing let good Samaritans know whether the animals they’d taken the time to assist had been returned to their owners or adopted into new families. (In the case of euthanasia, Pullen and her staff did not send out cards but would disclose the disposition information to anyone who called.)

“We had fairly high adoption and return-to-owner rates, especially for dogs, so we were sending out quite a few cards,” says Pullen, who is now director of Animal Sheltering Issues for The HSUS. “People would call up and say, ‘I got my little green card in the mail, and I’m so thrilled!’ ”

In developing the program, Pullen worked with animal control officers to make sure names and addresses were recorded on calls involving stray pick-ups. “The postcard serves three purposes—it reinforces the action that when you find an animal, you bring him into the shelter or call the shelter,” says Pullen. “It helps you add new supporters to your donor base. And it changes the public perception of your agency.”


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