Costa Rica dog sanctuary’s creative unique “breed” campaign skyrockets pet adoptions

Photo courtesy of Territorio de Zaguates

Photo courtesy of Territorio de Zaguates

The desire for “designer” pet breeds continues to grow. Eager consumers seek out breeds that were unheard of years ago like Ratese (American Rat Terrier and Maltese cross), Bagle Hounds (Basset Hound and Beagle cross), Spanadors (Cocker Spaniel and Labrador Retriever) and Golden Newfies (Golden Retriever and  Newfoundland) to name a few. Yet there are literally millions of stray dogs desperate for homes around the world, leading to the unnecessary euthanasia of perfectly healthy adoptable pets on a daily basis.

But a sanctuary in Costa Rica has come up with a brilliant and unique marketing strategy that’s turning this tide and capturing the imagination of would-be dog adopters.

Territorio de Zaguates, or “Land of the Strays,” is located less than an hour south of the Costa Rican capital of San Jose. Home to approximately 700 abandoned dogs, it successfully manages the mammoth job of spay and neuter, administering vaccines and treating health issues, as well as free range hikes through the surrounding scenic mountains with their charges.

Mattresses are provided for the dogs to lounge on throughout the day, Photo courtesy of Territorio de Zaguates

Mattresses are provided for the dogs to lounge on throughout the day, Photo courtesy of Territorio de Zaguates

To encourage adoptions, the sanctuary came up with a strategy that’s one-of-a-kind – creating unique “breeds” for their very mixed heritage charges. Once an animal has been released into the sanctuary’s general population, it’s given a customized “breed” name based on the dog’s phenotypic traits. These one-of-a-kind breed names include memorable titles like “Alaskan collie fluffy terrier” and the “chubby-tailed German doberschnauzer.” This creates the perception that an adopter is getting a special, one-only “breed”.

Dogs on a walk in the woods with sanctuary volunteers, Photo courtesy of Territorio de Zaguates

Dogs on a walk in the woods with sanctuary volunteers, Photo courtesy of Territorio de Zaguates

And this clever campaign has caught on big time, raising adoption rates over 1,400%! Now THAT”S success!

Maybe this is a model that other sanctuaries could imitate. If there are one-of-a-kind dogs (which of course each one is anyway) available, maybe that would have people lining up to adopt. It’s sure worth considering.

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