Love for pets on display in Times Square

Smiling person wearing an orange Best Friends hat holding a dog balloon in Times Square
Interactive event in New York City raises awareness about homeless pets and the importance of no-kill.
By Kelli Harmon

There was a lot of love this past weekend in New York City’s Times Square. Not long after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade had a record year in ratings, the city was once again occupied by inflatable figures. These were smaller — you might even say more like the size of a dog or cat because that’s exactly who they were meant to represent.

People walking through Times Square on Saturday, November 25 encountered an interactive installation featuring 1,000 balloon pets contained in crates. People of all ages came by, and it was easy to spot the animal lovers in the crowd as they stopped to talk with staff and volunteers about the unusual occupants in the plaza.

The installation, put on by Best Friends Animal Society, was meant to raise awareness that 1,000 dogs and cats are killed every day in America’s animal shelters, simply because they don’t have a safe place to call home.

The balloons had been fully inflated, but in the cool November weather they were a little deflated. Shrunken. That, too, represents how pets often feel in shelters: confused, afraid, and not fully themselves. Once the balloons were in a home they’d expand, showing how a home makes pets whole again.

Throughout the day, volunteers invited passersby to open a crate and take home one of the balloon pets from the square. The balloons were weighted, both to give the effect of them walking beside whoever took them home and to prevent any from accidentally floating away. They also featured QR codes directing people to more information on how to take action for homeless pets in their community. It’s all part of Best Friends’ effort for every shelter across the country to reach no-kill by 2025.

The Times Square campaign was made possible thanks to the agency Moon Rabbit, which designed and executed the plan at no cost to Best Friends. By all accounts, it was a hit, reaching thousands of people.

Impact in action

The balloon pets were just one part of the campaign. A digital billboard also in Times Square played a 30-second video twice an hour for several days before and after the installation to share the same message.

While the event focus was symbolic, raising awareness about the plight of pets in shelters across the country, each crate in Times Square had a photo and story of a real dog or cat currently waiting to be adopted.

The crates holding the balloon pets were actual functioning pet crates that were donated to the Humane Society of Westchester in New Rochelle, New York, following the event. The inflatable dogs and cats are reusable (they can be reinflated multiple times), and each came with information on how to responsibly recycle the material.

Delight was the overwhelming response to the installation, and that was the idea. While the facts facing pets in shelters today can be sad to think about, the positive side is that if people pitch in to help, they’ll save lives. If more people adopt, rather than buy pets, it saves lives. If people support shelters by volunteering and donating, it saves lives.

By the end of the day, all 1,000 inflatable pets had been let out of their crates and walked home.

Let's make every shelter and every community no-kill by 2025

Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill by 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets. 

Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.

Silhouette of two dogs, cat and kitten

You can help save homeless pets

You can help end the killing in shelters and save the lives of homeless pets when you foster, adopt, and advocate for the dogs and cats who need it most.

Saving lives around the country

Together, we're creating compassionate no-kill communities nationwide for pets and the people who care for them.

Let’s be friends! 

Connect with us on social media to stay in the loop about the lifesaving progress we’re making together.  

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