Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary taps into clever adoption tactic
Business owner Wanda Bowman keeps giving in a unique way
By Susie Ouderkirk
Las Cruces Bulletin
Walking into Ashley Furniture Homestore in Las Cruces can be a pleasantly overwhelming visual experience. Inside the front doors is an elegant acre of colorful furnishings, in dozens of luxurious tableaux, depicting every room of a well-appointed home. Freshly- made beds entice visitors to “come hither.” Couches and lush recliners beckon coyly to weary shoppers. A glass fountain bubbles with charm over the Ashley logo. And Spike, a yellow pitbull-labrador mix greets guests with a handsome smile. Wait. What?
There’s a dog sitting next to that couch in Ashley Furniture Homestore. And cuddled comfortably on a suede settee is a tortoiseshell cat, sleepily eyeing customers. On each animal’s neck is a string collar with a tag of introduction. OK then.
After the initial surprise, it becomes clear that these are not live animals, but well-made photographic cutouts. Each cutout depicts a real, live animal currently residing at Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary (SHAHS) and waiting for a forever home.
The clever idea was one of those “lightbulb” moments for Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary’s Volunteer Coordinator Tricia Quillen. She’d seen the tactic used in furniture stores in another state, and felt it was a valuable way to put orphan animals in touch with well-suited adopters.
“We can’t always take our adoptable animals to places where people who would be good adopters go,” Quillen said.
But what to do next? And how to pay for the project, which necessitates somewhat pricey printing? Quillen approached Wanda Bowman, the owner of Ashley Furniture Homestore, and pitched the idea. Bowman, an animal supporter and owner of two rescued Chihuahua mixes, immediately said yes.
Along with Better Life Natural Pet Foods, Ashley Furniture Home Store sponsors the unconventional idea in an effort to let shoppers see how much cozier their homes would be with a dog or cat. Insta-Copy on the Downtown Mall does the printing of the lifelike images, which are placed strategically around the show room. They look surprisingly realistic; visitors may find themselves doing a double take when they spot an adorable dog or cat out of the corner of their eye. The clever campaign adds a touch of whimsy to the otherwise opulent furniture store; it becomes a game to search out and find all the animals dispersed throughout.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to match up animal lovers with dogs or cats in need of a loving home. If a shopper should fall in love with one of the cutouts, the animal can be adopted from Safe Haven through the normal channels. As an added bonus, the cutout can be purchased from SHAHS for a nominal fee by the new owners. If the actual dog or cat has recently been adopted, the SHAHS staff are more than happy to facilitate a love connection with a similar animal.
Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary can be reached at 805-5338 or 527-4544.