5 Tips for Great Pet Bios & Descriptions
5 TIPS FOR STELLAR PET BIOS
By Caitlin Quinn
The right pet description can not only describe your pet’s personality and disposition, it can tell your pet’s story and ultimately drive adoptions. Follow these 5 tips to take your pet bios from standard to stellar.
1. START WITH WHAT YOU NOTICE
When you meet this animal or see a picture of it, what immediately stands out to you? From big to small, to outlandish to obvious — jot it all down! The most compelling descriptions are relatable, and describe animals the way we describe our own pets. Use this opportunity to be funny, heartfelt and show how much you care about each pet. Write as if you are talking to a friend!
2. FIND YOUR CREATIVE GROOVE
But, be honest above all. Potential pet adopters are looking to us to gain insight and information about what their life might look like with this new pet. Honesty is critical to building this relationship, but there are plenty of ways to be positive and get people excited, even while staying true to each pet’s unique qualities and quirks. And remember, creativity is not license to speculate or misrepresent – stick to just the facts, ma’am!
An energetic pup might get this description: When we asked Bentley what he thinks about the words “agility course,” his enthusiastic response was “Yes, yes! Pretty please! Yes, omg!” He’s ready and raring for activities that will keep his mind and body active.
3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO USE TEMPLATES OR GUIDES
If you’re currently a one-person bio-writing machine, it can get hard to stay creative, keep things focused on the individual animal and feel like you’re effectively building connections. Enter: templates, guides, fill-in-the-blanks and more! Also, feel free to peruse what other organizations are doing and get inspired by other bios you see on social media or Petfinder! Visit heartsspeak.org to find more tricks, templates and writer’s block busters.
Favorite fill-in-the-blanks: I’m looking for _________________in a human companion. Lots of people around here say I’m I love / prefer not to / tend to ______________ and it’s true, despite a less-than-ideal start in life, ____________ has flourished in our care and is now______________.
If _____________was on a dating app, his/her pickup line would be____________________________________________________________________.
4. COLLABORATE TOWARDS A BIG PICTURE VIEW
It can be hard to know everything about every animal, especially in a large shelter or high-intake situation, so reach out to other volunteers and staff to get their notes, stories, observations and other information pertinent to a good bio. Some easy ways to do this: a notecard box, private Facebook group, or file sharing system where collaboration and note-sharing can take place! Sharing is caring, and will lead to a more holistic description of each pet.
5. ELIMINATE JARGON, STAY GROUNDED
Do you remember what it was like to be an adopter, before you had all the information, resources and experiences you have now? It’s hard! But when you are writing pet descriptions try your very hardest to remember what it’s like to be the average community member. Don’t use abbreviations, overly-technical language or shelter jargon, but rather explain things in the way you would talk to a pet-owning friend or family member.
CAITLIN QUINN | Director of Operations, HeARTs Speak
Caitlin Quinn is the Director of Operations at HeARTs Speak (www.heartsspeak. org) and became involved in animal sheltering after years of volunteering as a grant writer for local nonprofits in her area. Prior to joining HeARTs Speak, Caitlin spent several years as the Assistant Director of Animal Farm Foundation, while also working towards her Master’s in Public Administration. Her greatest passion is working with shelters and rescues to maximize resources and use creativity to find life-changing solutions for homeless animals. Caitlin has had the pleasure of speaking at conferences and workshops throughout the US since 2009.