Follow Friday: Animal Rescue League of Boston

Warning: adorable animals that you will want to love forever are featured in this article.


Photographs by Elizabeth Dobrska/Animal Rescue League of Boston

Follow Friday, At a Glance
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With kittens, dogs, birds, and many more species, the Animal Rescue League of Boston has a lot going on every day—and, this being the internet—a lot of activity across its social media networks, too.

Elizabeth Dobrska, the organization’s marketing and creative manager, is at the helm of the ARL’s many accounts. Here, she shares the heart-warming stories of the many adorable animals who are hoping to find their forever homes, as well as the organization’s social media initiatives, which include educating the public and raising money for animals in need.

How do you manage the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s various social media accounts?

We have many accounts—our Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, and Vine—but then we also have other shelter and programs, so each shelter has its own Facebook page. So do our clinic and our “Spay Waggin,” which offers spay and neuter services to clients in need. … It is a lot to manage.

At all of our shelters, we have staff members who post on those pages and share animals. I will feature some of our current marketing campaigns and really emphasize our mission and what we are working on at the time, but it is really a team effort, coming in from staff and adopters. I really wouldn’t be able to do it without the volunteers and staff.

What are the goals for the ARL on social media?

There are a few goals. The first is really featuring our current marketing campaigns. Most recently we wrapped up Adopt a Dog Month. Around any campaign there are a lot of visuals—there are never too many photos and visuals to share. This month is Senior Pet Month, and we also have our Home for the Holidays campaign launching soon.

Then, we will feature animals that have been here for a while and need help finding a home. It has been really successful in finding some of our long-term animals a home.

We also share our success stories. We like to share updates with our followers and show how the animals are doing in their new homes. And then helping our shelter pets find loving homes. … Often, we’ll take in stray animals, and sometimes we get to match them back with their owner because of their microchip. I know there was a woman in Dedham who lost her cat for two years and we were able to reunite them.

Finally, we really spread the word for our different programs. People may not know that we offer dog training and all of the proceeds of that go to the animal shelter, and we also have a vet.

Are there any animals that have been extremely popular?

Kittens are really popular. For a daily dose of cuteness, our Instagram is great to go-to. People follow a lot of our stories. Anytime we have animals that have come from tough [circumstances] or have been in our shelters for a while, they resonate with people.

In 2013, Oliver Twist, a puppy our team rescued out in Dorchester, had been really emaciated. A FedEx driver called us, and our team went and got him. I had to photograph him when he came in, and he was so skinny. We shared his story on Facebook and we told everyone we found him and asked people for donations for his care. We were able to put him in a foster home and, within months, he gained weight, was happy, and we were able to find him a great home. Now he’s a strong, happy dog. We receive updates from his family. Stories like that make me really proud to work here.

In three words, describe the voice and tone of the ARL’s social media.

Animals, adoption, rescue. First and foremost, we’re all about animals.

Which social media account is the strongest channel for the ARL? If you had to pick, which one is the must-follow?

I would say Facebook is our strongest account. We have over 32,000 fans right now, which is great. And that’s how we share a lot of our adoptable pets and our stories. That’s where you’ll also get word on sponsors now. Or we might have a fee waved adoption weekend and that’ll be announced on Facebook, too.

What’s the most surprising or most outspoken feedback you’ve received on social media?

Few things surprise me these days. I would say there was a story from last year that really ignited a lot of emotions on social media: Puppy Doe, an animal that had been severely abused and was extensively written about. But people were really responsive on social media and really wanted to share her story. Her story really resonated with people. It taught people the importance of reporting animal cruelty.

What is the most popular animal?

Kittens all around, especially fluffy kittens, which we don’t get that many in the shelter. Kitten season is coming to an end. It starts early spring and goes through the end of fall. It’s just a constant flow of kittens coming into our shelter. So the summer is a great time for kitten adoption if anyone is looking to get a kitten. I would say during a busy week in the summer ,we would have about 10 kittens, maybe more even. Every time I’m in there, we have kittens.


Photograph by Rachel Mott

Photograph by Rachael Mott


Responses have been edited and condensed.