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Carol Novello: Stories of human-animal bond build engagement

Guest: Carol Novello is the author of “Mutual Rescue” and founder of an initiative of the same name that was created to elevate stories of the human-animal bond. She is a board member of CUDDLY, a fundraising and wishlist platform dedicated to helping animal organizations worldwide. And she was president of Humane Society Silicon Valley for 10 years.

Main question: How can animal welfare organizations use storytelling about the human-animal bond to better engage their communities?


  • Animal welfare organizations can attract a larger percentage of donor dollars if we can help the community understand that our work is about helping people as well as helping animals. One way to do this is to share stories of your work that include the transformative effects of pet adoption – not only for the pet, but for the person as well.

  • Carol shared two ways to gather stories:

    • Ask your adopters and foster caregivers how adopting or fostering changed their lives.

    • Create a culture of storytelling for staff and volunteers by making an ongoing commitment to talk about it, by sharing the full scope of success stories that staff may not be aware of, and by incentivizing and rewarding teams that identify and share stories. (These things can also boost morale)

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  • The future of animal sheltering is going to be about supporting the human animal bond and keeping families together. Providing veterinary care and returning the pet to their loving person is often more cost effective and kinder for the animal than taking an animal into the shelter.

  • Other ways to start focusing on the human-animal bond include:

    • Starting a medical fund to encourage donors to support the need to keep families together and pets out of the shelter.

    • Starting a pet food bank.

    • Partnering with a human services organization.




​Recorded August 11, 2020

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