Shelter Dog PSA’s That Make Us Smile [Videos]

There’s more than one way to inspire adoption
By Kathleen St. John, December 2011, Updated June 2021

We’ve all seen the ads before: Chain-link fencing, sad eyes, heart-tugging music, a plea for help. Television commercials for animal shelters are incredibly effective at pulling the heartstrings—sometimes, so much that they’re hard to watch.

In recent years, though, some shelters and rescue groups are trying a different tack: humor.

The plight of homeless pets isn’t a light subject, of course, but new ads by organizations like The Shelter Pet Project and Best Friends Animal Society accentuate the positive. Instead of showing misery and helplessness, ads like these highlight the many happy—and extremely cute—outcomes of animal adoption.

They also point out what animal-adopters already know: Most shelter animals are wonderful pets that have simply found themselves in a bad situation. (Like Harvey.)


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Here are a few examples of the new, cheerier breed of rescue commercials. Tell us what you think and/or point us to your favorites.

From (aka, PAL), two “dogs” discuss one of their favorite pastimes in an ad encouraging owners to find a pal for their pet:

While the American Pet Project Products Association, which backs PAL, has a vested interest in increased more pets in the home—we can’t argue with the cause.

A Beagle boy, newly in a home, marvels at his human’s funny habits in a Shelter Pet Project commercial:

The Shelter Pet Project is a public service campaign created by the Humane Society of the United States, Maddie’s Fund and The Ad Council in 2009 to encourage adoption. (Find more examples on The Project website.)

In this reimagined traffic stop, Los Angeles Animal Services shows us what life would be like if everyone loved you like your dog does:

Pups are home for the holidays in this sweet spot from Best Friends Animal Society:

Edie Brickell contributes a cute tune to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ light-hearted spot, including cheeky lyrics like, “If you’ve got/A little grass/Get off your a#$/Adopt a dog!”

Finally, the Valley Humane Society in Pleasanton, Calif., plays on the idea of dating sites and singleton’s looking for a lasting connection:

Still from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary 2010 Home for the Holidays video.

Kathleen St. John is a freelance writer for target The Denver Post and The Onion's A.V. Club, and a lifelong dog lover. She lives in Denver, Colo., with her husband, John, and her dog, Daisy, who's a mix of just about everything.