New research has revealed nearly half of Brits, 44 per cent, consider a pet’s physical appearance when thinking of adopting.
Nearly a fifth, 19 per cent, admitted being able to take photos and selfies with their pets is important.
When looking at adoption websites and social media, 56 per cent said they would skip over a picture of an animal looking for their forever home if it wasn’t cute enough.
A quarter of Brits confessed if the image was of a poor quality, it would also put them off adopting the animal.
The study’s findings has revealed the extent an image obsessed society and social media has had a negative impact on the adoption of animals.
Surveying 2,000 adults, the RSPCA discovered how potential pets are being overlooked in this digital age.
They are either considered to not photograph well, or people change their mind about adopting after seeing a profile picture which isn’t ‘up to scratch’.
Sam Gaines, Head of Companion Animals at the RSPCA, told UNILAD the importance of photographs has had a particular impact on certain breeds who take longer to find their forever homes.
English bull terriers for example can take up to 98 days to rehome.
Black cats meanwhile, often described as being tough to photograph, stay at the RSPCA for up to 30 days, compared to the average which is 27.
In some cases pets become long-stay animals at the rescue centres, spending months awaiting adoption.
Although the RSPCA were aware of the impact social media was having, Sam admitted the charity was still shocked by the statistics.
For the RSPCA the research was quite shocking. We understand that people live in an image conscious society, and that can be a drive, but there is so much more than appearance which matters when it comes to raising and getting a pet.
We really want to stress that people need to do their research because ultimately you are taking something into your home for which you have responsibility, and need to commit to making sure they are happy and healthy.
From dogs to degus, and horses to hamsters, our pets bring us so much joy and happiness! Owning a pet can even keep us healthy by boosting our immune system and encouraging us to get more exercise! April is #NationalPetMonth – tweet us pics of your BFFs (Best Furry Friends)! pic.twitter.com/xslAUFmh4g
— RSPCA (England & Wales) (@RSPCA_official) April 12, 2019
Sam added the RSPCA has noticed ‘trends’, dogs and cats being adopted because of the impact of fashion, celebrity and pop culture.
Part of the problem and one of the things we certainly see is that the choices people make around getting dogs and cats is very much driven by what they see on social media.
For example, we have seen an influx of huskies over recent years because of Game of Thrones and Twilight.
It is a concern because people are driven by impulse purchasing so will often get a dog or cat without knowing what that means in terms of looking after them for the rest of their lives.
Olympic silver medal gymnast and proud rescue-pet owner, Louis Smith visited the Millbrook RSPCA centre to meet the residents and find out more:
In the wake of this research, the RSPCA has partnered with Huawei to improve the quality of the profile pictures they take of pets in need of adoption.
Donating 20 brand new P30 Pro devices to RSPCA’s rescue centres across the nation, the Leica Quad camera system allows volunteers to take high quality photos of the animals without any training.
Having uploaded some of the new pictures to their website and social media, the RSPCA say the devices are already having an effect, helping some animals find their forever homes.
Anson Zhang, Managing Director of Consumer, Huawei UK and Ireland is delighted the devices are helping pets find loving homes, saying:
The fact that our devices are being used to help find animals who are struggling to find a home across England and Wales is very rewarding.
We support the great work that the RSPCA do and we’re glad that we’re able to help them achieve their mission with the easy to use camera and AI assistance on our P30 Pro device.
With thousands of animals looking for adoption each year, there is always work to do to ensure each pet shines and finds their perfect home.
And as the research demonstrated, that now includes showing just how beautiful and unique the animals are in photos.
To find out more about the campaign, donate or look at the animals available for adoption from the RSPCA, visit The Unadoptables website.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.