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Marketing for animal rescue advocates: SEO, Social Media, Fundraising  & Blogging Tips To Save Lives. Marie Macaspac is the ARM's founder. She is also the Marketing Director for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco, CA. ARM is a  resource to help other rescues learn the value of marketing to increase adoptions, donations and visibility. Together, we'll save more animals!

Ocean Blue Presents "Causes Around the World": Susie's Senior Dogs

Our mascot Ocean Blue searches for causes around the world that she thinks are worth barking about!


Here's Susie! The inspiration that started it all!

Here's Susie! The inspiration that started it all!

Ocean and I are fortunate to be connected to Erin O' Sullivan, founder of Susie's Senior Dogs, after she helped Muttville Senior Dog Rescue by sharing a post about a dog named Chelo that went viral. Thanks to a little senior dog captured by the camera lens of Erin's boyfriend, Humans of New York founder and author, Brandon Stanton, Erin and Brandon's lives were enlightened to the cause of senior dog rescue. Statistics show that 5 in 10 dogs in shelters are euthanized simply because no one adopted them. Of the "hard to adopt" cases, the largest percentage (24%) are senior pets. This cause is near and dear to ARM's heart too. (Ocean Blue is a Muttville senior dog rescue!)

Tell us about how you became aware of the cause you've chosen to rally for, homeless senior dogs.

Erin and Susie

Erin and Susie

Susie is a 14 year old Chihuahua mix whom my boyfriend, Brandon, adopted almost three years ago. She is 100% of the inspiration! As all loving pet owners would say about their own animals, we think Susie is the best dog in the whole world. She and Brandon have a particularly strong bond, it sounds cliche, but it's beautiful. There's been nothing lost in adopting a senior, as compared to adopting a puppy. Love is love. Sure, we'll have less time with her, but I'd rather have less time with Susie than no time with Susie.

Susie is unique, for us. And I know there are other senior dogs out there (especially the ones sitting in shelter cells!) that would give anything to give their unique love to a human that will love them back.

Tell us more about you:

I grew up in Connecticut with a childhood dog.  My parents adopted Pepper, a mixed breed rescue dog, when I was about six months old. I always thought every family had a dog, just like another sibling. My brother and I certainly considered Pepper our third sibling, we "tortured" with endless playtime, I'm guessing! She was such a good dog, she was very calm and always loving. When I was in high school, my mom was alone with Pepper when she had to be put to sleep. She was almost 16 years old and had gotten very sick. I always feel guilty for not being there.

I currently live in New York City.

When did you decide to make a difference for animals?

In the past couple of years, Susie has grown her own following on Facebook, just for fun. A dog company reached out to Susie a few months back to raise money together for a dog charity of our choice. A senior charity first came to mind to help, since Susie is a senior herself. A quick Google search did not bring up many reliable senior specific rescue organizations, at least not in the New York area. In hindsight, that's what planted the seed, but Susie's Senior Dogs was never officially planned. The starting of it has all flowed so easily, like the floodgates were opened and this was just supposed to happen.

Tell us about your decision to tackle this cause. What convinced you to do so, and what did it take to actually create your movement?

One day, I posted a photo on Susie's page with the caption "Discussing our retirement. We're thinking of starting a senior dog and human match making service." Again, this was on a whim. I put up Susie's posts in the moment and whatever comes to mind within a few minutes. Right after I posted that, I had the thought to make a page about this "retirement plan" and call it Susie's Senior Dogs. I would research senior dogs around the country and post their information. Right from the beginning I knew I wanted it to be more than just putting up a photo with contact information - I wanted it to be more quality, lengthy postings to bring the animals to life, not just their photo with a few stats.

One lucky day, Susie caught the eye of Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton, and the rest is history!

One lucky day, Susie caught the eye of Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton, and the rest is history!

A few days later, Brandon shared SSD on his blog, Humans of New York. Within 24 hours the page had almost 100,000 likes coming from his post. Brandon has grown an incredibly loyal following the past three years and SSD would not have had such instant success without his help.


How have you made a difference in your community, in the lives of both humans and the animals?

My heart is for the seniors sitting on concrete floors behind bars. That's a dog in true need. A dog's lifeblood is companionship. A senior in that situation has either come from a hard life and now has a depressing life, or they have had a good life and have suddenly found themselves alone on a cold floor, and they have no idea why. Even the best of the best shelters that are filled with loving staff and volunteers cannot compare to a good home with a companion for them. Now imagine a shelter that is anything less than that. That depresses me. So to pull an animal from this situation and give them companionship changes everything for them, and that's the basic and most obvious difference made.

But I believe that dogs (or cats), young or old, end up doing more for us humans than we can ever do for them. I believe as humans we all need to be needed, to varying degrees. A dog need for companionship with us is very desirable, it makes us feel good! And then on top of that they love us! Nothing I can put in writing will bring to life the companionship and love between a human and their dog.

What are the best marketing strategies you employ today?

"If I post one dog a day and one dog a day finds its forever soulmate, that makes me happy!" - Erin

"If I post one dog a day and one dog a day finds its forever soulmate, that makes me happy!" - Erin

The only guideline I have for myself for SSD is to gather as much information as possible about the dog to write a quality story. I'm all for quality over quantity. One could easily post 10 dogs a day, throw up a photo with their age, breed, and location. But you would lose the feeling of getting connected to the dog. If I post one dog a day and one dog a day finds its forever soulmate, that makes me happy!

What are your greatest achievements thus far for your cause?

Hands down the numerous adoptions. That is the sole reason for SSD to exist and successful adoptions will stay the greatest achievement. Second to that, is the increased awareness on senior dog adoptions, even for those who are not in the position to adopt. They may tell their friend who is to adopt a senior!

What would you like to accomplish in 2014?

I want to uncover the seniors who might never have a chance, I love the "underdogs" as my boyfriend says. He's right, I've come to learn about myself that I gravitate towards the unpopular things or lesser known routes. I want to help the "unpopular" dogs!

What does it mean to you to be an animal rescue advocate?

There are 320 million people in the U.S. There about 8 million cats and dogs in shelters. 8 million is only 2.5% of 320 million, so it would only take 2.5% of our population realizing they are in the position to adopt to solve the problem. So simple. :P

Happily ever after: Brandon, Erin, and Susie

Happily ever after: Brandon, Erin, and Susie

Ocean Blue wants to know, "Are you a volunteer or foster for a senior rescue in your part of the world?" Send us a note with a photo. We're thinking of starting a directory of senior rescue groups on the ARM website. If we get enough responses, we'll add it Animal Rescue Marketing. Thanks to Susie for inspiring us, too!

"The Chelo Effect": What's It Like To Have Your Story Go Viral


At Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, we are still on cloud nine as we recover from the massive response received as a result of this post we published on Muttville's Facebook page on March 7, 2014.  Our office staff was sorting paperwork of new doggy arrivals to Muttville. Office Manager Kristin Hoff was shocked to read the surrender form that accompanied a senior mutt named Chelo. Kristin shared the form with Program Manager Jolene who then shared it with our fans online.

Click the image above to read the shocking Surrender form.

Click the image above to read the shocking Surrender form.

Like wildfire, the story spread across hundreds and then thousands of Facebook pages and personal profiles. Within hours, it reached over 10,000 people!

That was just the beginning. The story was picked up by and the reach tripled. also shared Chelo's story which received over 37,000 Likes. Susie's Senior Dogs on Facebook re-posted Chelo's photo, and within hours, it received over 5300 shares.

Muttville's Facebook page received over 3000 new Likes in 3 days and had a surge of traffic - nearly 30,000 visits in three days. Four days after the story was introduced, almost 1 million people knew Chelo's story. Safe to say, Chelo officially had gone viral!


Chelo received adoption applications from all over the nation, plus donations in his honor, including one from Brazil! Could it get any better? YES! Chelo awaited to hear who would be his lucky new family. The announcement and photo of Chelo with new mom Molly extended the momentum for a few more days. Susie's Senior Dogs shared the good news. The happy update received a record-breaking 13,000+ likes!

Muttville received dozens of messages thanking us for saving Chelo. His story brought us new admirers, which gave the Muttville Communications team a valuable opportunity to educate people with this important message: Chelo is just one of MANY dogs rescued from horrific situations. Muttville has many more senior dogs who deserve the same new beginning like Chelo.

How has Muttville benefited from the "Chelo Effect"? Thanks to Chelo, our now most famous rescue, Muttville's Facebook page has received record-breaking Likes on its most recent photos. Sally's photo with her new family received 1,248 Likes. With the increase in fans and subscribers, that means more people will hear and share our stories. More people will donate, adopt, and volunteer. More people will give homeless senior dogs the new beginning they deserve.