How Instagram Can Save Pets in Need

Creative rescue groups use this photo- and video-sharing social network to help homeless dogs and cats.

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Every day, millions of people use their mobile devices to snap selfies and other fun photos to chronicle their daily lives. Many of us post them on popular social networks like Instagram, and, not surprisingly, a large number of these photos are of pets.

But did you know many animal welfare advocates have harnessed the power of Instagram to help pets in need? With more than 400 million active accounts on Instagram, it’s a great place to reach new and potential volunteers and adoptive families. Rescue groups and shelters use this powerful platform to tell the story of their organization and the animals they help, leading to more adoptions. Here are five great animal welfare groups using Instagram in their own unique way to make a difference:

Dallas Pets Alive
(Instagram @DallasPetsAlive)

Doesn’t everyone love a photo-bomb picture? The team at Dallas Pets Alive takes it a step further by having their adoptable pets photo-bomb celebrities. A volunteer who is a photo-editing whiz borrows selfies from celebrities’ Instagram accounts and superimposes an adoptable pet into the photo. Once complete, Dallas Pets Alive posts the edited photo to their own Instagram feed.

For example, the photo might have Kim Kardashian holding a cute Yorkie or it could be the famous Ellen DeGeneres selfie at the Oscars, except now, Sandy, a homeless pup, is in the photo. To see these hilarious and adorable petcentric photo-bombs, go to

Helen Woodward Animal Center
(Instagram @hwac)

The Helen Woodward Animal Center, based in Rancho Santa Fe, California, uses its Instagram account to sniff out new volunteers. The organization creates fun graphics to announce each new volunteer orientation with the date and time right on the photo. That way, everyone who shares and sees the photo will see the event details, too. In one example, there were more than 100 likes on a single photo, which translated into new volunteers!


National Mill Dog Rescue
(Instagram @NationalMillDog Rescue)

National Mill Dog Rescue’s mission is to encourage adoption of former puppy mill breeding dogs. According to Michele Burchfield at National Mill Dog Rescue, based in Peyton, Colorado, “Instagram is a wonderful platform for the National Mill Dog Rescue to share the message around the world about the cruel realities of the puppy mill industry in a very visual way and also to promote dogs available for adoption.”

National Mill Dog Rescue has found success on Instagram by combining inspirational quotes with happy photos of adorable dogs in a way that inspires people to consider pet adoption. These fun posts also make great content for supporters to share with their friends on social media platforms. Sharing helps National Mill Dog Rescue create more awareness about the dogs who are up for adoption.

Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals
(Instagram @Mayors AllianceNYC)

The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals uses Instagram to showcase its many community events and fundraisers, helping create buzz and excitement for the events even if out-of-town supporters can’t attend. Recently, adoptable pets from the Mayor’s Alliance walked the runway during the New York Pet Fashion Show. Famous fashion designers worked with the Mayor’s Alliance to transform these cats and dogs into runway models for the evening!

Best Friends Animal Society
(Instagram @BestFriends AnimalSociety)

In a fun campaign, Best Friends Animal Society, headquartered in Kanab, Utah, paired adoptable pets with simple printed signs that highlight the animals’ personalities. Each sign features the pet’s resolutions for the year. In one photo, a pup said he “resolved to keep the bed warm,” while a lovable cat resolved to “find the perfect napping spot.” Best Friends also asked its supporters to join in on the fun by uploading a photo of their pets’ resolutions with the hashtag #BFPetResolutions.
These are only a few examples of animal welfare groups that have found creative ways to tap into the powerful Instagram audience to increase adoptions.Wondering how you can help? It’s easy! When you see adoptable pets
or community fundraisers on your Instagram feed, just like and share to help rescue pets!

Rachel Phelps

Rachel Phelps, “America’s Pet Parent,” is an award-winning writer, photographer, and certified dog trainer. She keeps busy managing the career of her Internet celebrity dog Preston from She has three Westies, who think they are minihumans and three cats, who rule the house. Learn more at


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