Getting Shelter Pets Noticed with Better Bios

If photos and video open the door, then the descriptions and bios that we write for pets are what tend to seal the deal. Pet bios take many forms – most often as social media captions/descriptions or writeups on Petfinder or Adopt-a-Pet type sites. No matter where these will be seen, they become an important part of getting potential pet owners to take action and investigate adoption. Here are some of our top tips for catching attention for those foster or shelter pets and some tools that will help every pet shine!


Shorter is better, especially on social media

In the year 2000, the human attention span was 12 seconds. But by 2018, studies showed it had fallen to 8 seconds. And with the flood of content coming at people at any given time, especially on social media platforms, all this means we have very little time to capture and keep someone’s discerning eye. So be mindful of how much you’re writing and focus on the pet’s personality and what you know for sure based on interactions or experiences.


Just the facts, ma’am

Let’s blame it on human biology again: We’re pre-programmed to fill in gaps in information with inferences and assumptions. But when we embellish, rely on breed stereotypes, or jump to conclusions about an animal’s history or past, we’re not doing them any favors and in some cases we’re reinforcing stereotypes about shelter animals (the misconception that they all come from tragic circumstances and are “broken” in some way). Avoid these traps by sticking to what you know – meaning it’s something about the pet that’s been observed or experienced.


Don’t close the door on potential matches

It can be tempting to write everything we know or try and essential perform adoption counseling via the bio we write, but if our descriptions try to do too much heavy lifting or are laden with jargon and too many restrictions, then we end up in a situation where potential adopters are likely scared off, even if they would in fact be a great fit for the pet. Stay focused on the positive, and keep the door open for matchmaking!

This absolutely doesn’t mean that we’re ever being dishonest or not disclosing important info about each pet, but it does mean that we’re saving more in-depth conversations for the point of adoption – after all, every situation, family and pet is different and trying to provide adoption counseling in this broad, vague way will undoubtedly miss the mark for some. Instead, remember these descriptions are like the back cover of a book – good, solid information to help us decide if it’s something we’re interested in, but doesn’t go into every detail of the story.


Use templates to have fun…and grab attention!

It can feel like a lot of pressure to write a bio for a pet, knowing it has the power to help them find a new home. But it should also be a fun, creative exercise – a much-needed outlet at this moment in time! So, take the pressure off by using fill-in-the-blank templates, a fun and interactive interview strategy, or inspiration from others to help to be your guide. Before you know it, you’ll be fielding adoption inquiries and applications!






Additional Resources:

Caitlin Quinn

Caitlin Quinn

Caitlin is passionate about working with shelters and rescues to reimagine the way they tell their stories and connect with new audiences. She has served in the animal welfare field since 2008 and early on had the honor of working closely with diverse organizations across the U.S. to maximize resources, redesign policies, and find life-changing marketing solutions. In 2015, she got her MPA with a concentration in nonprofit management and in 2021, she began teaching marketing + communications for the University of Florida Master of Veterinary Science, Concentration in Shelter Medicine program. She lives in NY with a petite brindle pit bull named Sally who owns her heart.