Typing Contest

Last week, I wrote 7 tips for taking photos that get dogs adopted. Most shelters (13,759 to be exact) are using PetFinder.com to showcase their adoptable pets, which is why I use them as examples.

Photos are undoubtedly the most important part of a PetFinder page. The second most important part is a well-written profile (or “bio”) that goes next to the picture.

I’ve spent a lot of time on PetFinder, and I’ve seen WAY too many good animals being held back by awful profiles.

Don’t let bad profiles happen to your pets. Follow the guidelines below to make each profile shine!


1. Do be brief

People have short attention spans, so don’t delve too much into unnecessary details.

2. Do stick to the big 3:

Personality, medical issues, and compatibility with other animals/kids are the only three things you need. There’s no reason to write the animal’s back-story unless it’s really interesting.

If it’s a retired racing hound or police dog, mention it. If this particular cat fought off a mountain lion to protect her litter of kittens, mention it. In other words, only mention it if Disney would make a movie about it.

3. Do write from the pet’s perspective

You don’t have to do it every time, but it’s an endearing format to use. Remember LOLCats from last week? People LOVE to put words into animals’ mouths.

4. Do turn negatives into positives

Check out this profile of a cat who doesn’t get along with other pets:

Instead of writing “she doesn’t like other cats”, which brings up images of cat fights, this writer painted a picture of a cat who will jump up in your lap, follow you from room to room and soak up your affection.

Bravo to this bio writer!


1. Don’t describe the animal’s appearance

There are several pictures on every bio, so describing the animal’s fur color is unnecessary. The exception to this rule is writing something cute like “This yellow lab proves that blondes DO have more fun!”

2. Don’t lead with negatives

DON'T lead with negatives

The above profile is all too common: “neglectful situation…undersocialized…shyness…no small children” .

I’m confused. Are they trying to get this dog adopted or euthanized? Because all I’m reading is reasons not to adopt Mimi.

An animal’s bio should scream “Take me home! I’m the perfect pet!”

Overwhelm the reader with positives,

and if you need to include some special needs, put them at the end.

Here’s a perfect example of leading with the positive:

Positive and informative! An A+ profile

“Sensational…delightful…enamored with children…inquisitive” Don’t you want to take this dog home after reading that? By the time you get to the end, you’re so in love with this dog that you’re thinking, “I wonder what time Home Depot closes? I could totally build a 6-foot privacy fence for THIS bundle of cuteness! ”

Right now:

Review your rescue organization’s pet profiles. If they’re not brief, positive, and informative, rewrite them, because the animals are depending on you.


3 responses »

  1. Simba says:

    I hate bios written from the pet’s point of view. At best, I’ll ignore it.

    There’s a local rescue who are doing great work, and they obviously have two people writing their bios. One person does the basic info, something cute or fun, specifies energy level and personality, all written in happy, endearing language- good and bad.

    The other has a load of history, it’s all first person, they talk about how the ‘mean and nasty person dumped me’ and how the dog’s ‘trying hard not to cry’ and ‘would like a nice home with a warm bed and lots of walks please!’. There’s very little info about the actual dog, and no useful information about whether it’d be suited to your situation. You could do a ‘fill in the blanks’ of most of the carefully-written first-person bios and it’d apply to almost any dog. It’s really irritating when the rescuer talks about themselves from the dog’s point of view (“a minstering angel came and tended to me”) or when they use ‘mommy’ or otherwise infantilize the dog.

    • melinda says:

      I love it! I think they are adorable if done well. The ones you mentioned are annoying, but I really enjoy them. Just remember for each his own. I don’t like it they are all the same fill in the blank ad. I don’t feel like I’m getting a true picture of the animal.

  2. Cinderella says:

    You forgot to mention that this is just your opinion. You can sometimes gain sympathy from mentioning that the animal almost lost it’s life. Or that his owner abused him, etc. This is something that would get my attention for sure and would make me want to give the dog or cat a great home. I do very much agree about not needing any physical description since there are photos. Everybody has a way of looking at things. Some from the glass half empty and some from the glass half full. It is important to appeal to both. I don’t believe there is any one way to do anything including writing bios for the pets. I do agree with starting out positive and then moving on to other aspects of the personality. I also agree with keeping it short unless there is an extremely interesting story to be told. If it’s well written people will read it whether it’s short or long.

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