Battersea makes rescue dogs and cats the heroes in uplifting campaign

Every year, 250,000 animals are brought to rescue centres around the UK for all kinds of reasons. Most of them are much loved pets that through no fault of their own find themselves without a home. Leading animal charity, Battersea, recently launched their campaign “Rescue Is Our Favourite Breed” to raise awareness to the fact that people are not adopting the rescued animals.

Battersea’s research showed that when considering a pet, whilst 92% of people say they believe rescue is the right thing to do, when the time comes to get a new pet, many choose to go online and search for a specific breed instead.

Another contributing factor is a fear of the unknown with a rescue pet; there is a general misconception that animal shelters are full of damaged, sad animals. In fact, 52% of people say the animals in rescue centres often have health or behavioural problems.

The aim of Battersea’s campaign, made in partnership with FCB Inferno, is to transform the way society views rescues, address the misconceptions and bust the myths associated with breed and age, and shift perceptions to reframe the category and stem declining rehoming numbers. To encourage the public to think rescue first and breed second.

The campaign strategy was ensuring the animals in the film were not depicted as victims. Pity would not be a vehicle used to spur adoptions; rescue cats and dogs would never be depicted as helpless and with no personality of their own. With Rescue Is Our Favourite Breed, every animal is shown as bursting with personality, with character, quirks and lots to give.

EVP at FCB Inferno, Sharon Jiggins, said: “With Rescue Is Our Favourite Breed, we joyfully celebrate rescue pets as individuals, portraying them as heroes not victims and showing rescue pets as the best pets, who all deserve a second chance and a happy home. In doing so we want to fundamentally change perceptions by elevating rescue to a breed in its own right.

Claire Horton, Battersea’s Chief Executive says that “Even though one in four dogs and cats are rescuesiv, you’re still more likely to hear about French Bulldogs or Labrador’s being the nation’s favourite pets. Our preoccupation with breed is fuelling a ruthless pet trade based on looks alone – one that can sadly put profit before animal welfare,” and adds:

“With this campaign Battersea is setting out to increase the visibility of rescue animals, to show they’re more common than you think and are in homes across the nation. They’re the most rewarding, responsible choice for a pet, and we’re encouraging all generations of animal lovers to think rescue first.”

With only 25% of dog and cat owners going on to rehome a rescue pet despite 63% of people saying they are likely to rehome from a rescue, there is evidently some work to do in challenging the barriers to adoption. To encourage potential pet owners to be more open to rescue pets and look beyond certain breeds, Battersea has removed breed filters from its own online animal galleries. Initial tests have shown that when visitors to the site were not given the option to filter by breed, they viewed more animal profiles, and a higher percentage of them went on to apply to rehome a dog or cat.

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