The Camouflage Collective Interview

At the age of 18 Brittany Bloomer started to develop Pound Paws, a registered Australian charity. It uses modern social media tools to make potential pet owners more aware of, and help re-home, animals in pounds. It is their mission to encourage the public to adopt instead of shop, and discourage backyard breeders that contribute to the oversupply of dogs and cats in Australia.

“I saw how much of an impact one individual can have, when they choose to help out others”

Five years on, Britt has been nominated for the NSW / ACT Young Achievers Awards. Here, Britt speaks on the impact of her social media accounts @poundpaws and @brittbloomer, on her inspirations for Pound Paws and much more.

Model, TV Presenter, Journalist, Blogger, Animal Activist and Founder of Pound Paws. How on earth do you make time for all you do?!

Wow, thats a lovely introduction! Thank you ha-ha. I have always enjoyed public speaking and speaking out for things I believe in (such as Animal Welfare), so I guess the combination of being a TV Presenter and Journalist and Founder of Pound Paws charity all fell into place quite easily.

I easily manage to always find time to balance my personal life with work and charity, however I don’t tend to view TV Presenting / Pound Paws as work, it is a passion for me and something I wake up and look forward to doing every day. You know you’re doing the right thing when you feel this way each morning.

Can you tell me a bit more about the reason you began Pound Paws and what it does as an organisation?

I have been involved with Animal Welfare for over 10 years. It started off when I was about 12 years old with me volunteering at local rescue groups, speaking in school assemblies and hosting my own fundraisers for Animal Welfare NSW Rescue groups.

It was when I started to share images of pets available for adoption in pounds and rescue centres on my online blog and Facebook page, I started to realise just how many people had no idea about the amount of happy and healthy pets available for adoption. The response I received online was amazing!

My blog’s mission was to help find people a pet in pounds and rescue centres – all they had to do was email me and I would call up different rescues and browse online until I found them the pet they wanted. It was the most satisfying feeling when I would match a new owner with a pet from the pound.

I was getting several requests per day to assist people with finding a pet and I began to feel like the muppet off Sesame Street trying to juggle everything. That was when the idea of a search engine that allows people to browse for their dream pet came to me. People want convenience – they want to quickly look online and have things made easy for them. Ever since then, it has helped with time management, allowing me to focus on other aspects of the charity, like visiting rescue directories, running fundraising events and assisting with day to day emails.

The animals featured on @poundpaws are just the cutest, but a lot of them have experience lives of abuse and abandonment. Why on earth does this happen?

There are many reasons for why pets can be abused by owners, ranging from owners suffering from a mental illness or perhaps, pets are being used for live bait or fighting. The reasons for abandonment can range from things like; an unwanted Christmas present, owners moving overseas or couples breaking up. At the end of the day, these pets are all part of the mass amount that end up on death row, a rough estimate of 250,000 per year in Australia. This statistic is absolutely shocking and can be prevented, through raising awareness about the importance of choosing to adopt instead of shop. A lot of the Australian public have no idea about the number of happy and healthy pets on death row, so they automatically go to Gumtree or a pet shop to source their new pet. This is where Pound Paws comes in and creates an easy platform for the modern person to find their dream pet, by using our online search engine to access pets available for adoption in pounds and rescue centres around Australia.

You have your own gorgeous fella, Hansel, how did he influence your decision to create Pound Paws?

My dachshund Hansel, is my world! He has demonstrated to me how powerful of a connection humans can have with animals. I am so grateful to have him in my life. Hansel is a family pet and was purchased from a pet shop 15 years ago, back when I had no idea about pet shops supporting puppy farms. The thought of Hansel suffering on a puppy farm before he met me, devastates me. This probably influenced me to make sure it doesn’t happen to any other dogs or cats. Pets are such wonderful additions to anyone’s lives and I strongly advise for anyone to welcome a pet into their life.

What can the average person do to help if they cannot adopt an animal into their life?

There is a lot that the average person can do. It can be as simple as sharing one of @poundpaws posts on social media to their friends. This raises awareness about our adorable pets available for adoption. Or perhaps, becoming a foster carer, by welcoming a pet into their home temporarily, until it finds a forever home. Lots of rescue groups and pounds also welcome volunteers to come and help out – this is a wonderful excuse for you to come and play with some furry little friends!

What differentiates Pound Paws from other organisations?

I think what makes Pound Paws different, is the amazing community we have grown online with our followers, we have a #PoundPaws hashtag, where owners share their pictures of the pets they have adopted through us. It is so heart-warming to browse through this and keep up to date with how these pets are settling in with their new family.

We are not only focused on re-homing pets and saving them from death row, but providing support for the amazing rescue groups and pounds too.

We also provide a complimentary service, where we send out volunteers who photograph and film these rescues and pounds. We provide this as a free service, because we want to help promote them to an online audience, furthermore attracting more adoptions.

Also, something unique that we offer people who choose to adopt through Pound Paws, is our Happy Adoption Packs which get sent out to them in the mail. The Happy Adoption Pack idea came about, as I wanted to reward the individual for choosing to adopt instead of shop. The pack includes; a new pet owner certificate, discounted vet fees, flea comb, pet food, pet grooming samples, pound paws information, cruelty free magazine and many more goodies.

Our online search engine is also the first of its kind in Australia, which allows the user to search for their dream pet in pounds and rescue centres all over Australia. There are various different fields they can search by, ranging from; breed, age, size, area and lifestyle match.

Who is your target audience? How does social media play a crucial role in reaches them?

I guess my target audience is anyone who loves pets! I found that the Pound Paws social media page grew quite rapidly, as people love to see images of cute dogs and cats. We constantly get images re-shared and always people tag their friends in our posts. I guess our role in building our social accounts is just a requirement of us to post several cute pics of pets available for adoption each day, the rest looks after itself!

In addition to Pound Paws you are strongly affiliated with Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation and Laceitup, what is the importance of young adults being more involved with charities? How have you developed as a person because of it?

My involvement with these other charities has opened my eyes and helped develop me as a person. I have gained an appreciation for my everyday life and also saw how much of an impact one individual can have, when they choose to help out others. I feel being associated with such brilliant charities, played a big role in my decision towards starting my own charity. I have a lot of respect for Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation and Youth Off The Streets (Lace it up campaign), as they have made such a difference to not only individuals, but communities too. The goals they have reached and lives they have impacted, is a similar path which I would like to lead with Pound Paws.

How did you become such a strong mentor, and leader? Is it inside all of us? How do people take that first step towards positive change, and what will they feel when they do?

I believe the first step towards become a leader, is the fire in one’s belly which I call passion. You must be truly passionate about whatever project you choose to move forward and work towards making a difference in. Without passion, there is nothing.

For me, leading a movement with Pound Paws is the most rewarding feeling I have experienced to date. I am a strong animal lover, so being able to surround myself with animals on the daily and help rescue them from death row, puts a big smile on my face.

Britt adds “Social Media is a very powerful platform to use when it comes to engaging a large audience. Too often, our online newsfeed gets spammed with false advertising, selfies or memes – so for me, to be able to connect to a large online audience and use social media as an educational platform to raise awareness about Animal Welfare in Australia, is very important.”

Please show your support by following @poundpaws and keeping up to date with events. Upcoming Pound Paw events include A Dogs Night Out on the 16th of March and The Milky Lane Rescue Dog Picnic on the 18th of March.

Sophie adds, “Thank you kindly to the beautiful Brittany Bloomer for her time, compassion and thank god for that “fire in her belly.” On a personal level, @brittbloomer and help @poundpaws facilitated the adoption of my gorgeous 5 year old tabby cat Frankie. Frankie was, by some miracle, able to pull me out of a dark few months of crippling depression.” Read the full interview online via The Camouflage Collective website here Article: Written by Sophie Mckenzie