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25 years, more than $18 million, thousands of miles and hundreds of pit bull kissing booths later

Do you remember what you were doing in 1995? (It’s OK to laugh. I know some of you vibrant, youthful folks weren’t even around then.) I was a determined 20-something in Salt Lake City having lunch with a friend and premier event planner named Gary Howard. I was telling Gary all about my plan to organize a big charity walk to raise money for homeless pets, and he was telling me all about how my plan was doomed to fail. And that first year, it totally did. For the inaugural Strut Your Mutt, it rained, it snowed, participants were wet and miserable, and someone’s golden retriever pulled the sound system off the table and destroyed it. Good times!

Today, we’re gearing up for the 25th anniversary of Strut Your Mutt which has raised more than $18 million for animal shelters and rescue groups nationwide since its inception. This year, the entire event is virtual, culminating with Strut Your Mutt Day on October 24. With animal welfare groups around the country being forced to cancel their normal in-person fundraising events for 2020, this year’s Strut Your Mutt is more significant than ever for the dogs and cats in our shelters and communities. This is where you come in.

Each year for Strut Your Mutt, Best Friends teams up with local rescue groups, shelters and other animal welfare organizations for a community walk and fundraiser. All the money raised during the event goes directly to the participating animal welfare groups to help support their lifesaving programs for pets in need. This year so far, 250 individual animal groups across 33 states (along with Best Friends) are participating, with more welcome to sign up in the coming weeks and months. No matter where you live, you can register for the event and sign up to support an animal welfare group of your choice.

Arizona to Arkansas. California to Connecticut. New Jersey to Nevada. Washington to Wisconsin. Animal-loving community members looking for something easy and impactful to do during a challenging year can lace up, log in and strut through their neighborhoods in support of local pets. For many organizations, the money raised during Strut Your Mutt comprises the bulk of their fundraising for the year: spay/neuter services, adoption and foster programs, emergency vet care and more. These are the types of essential services you’re supporting when you sign up to strut.

In 2011, Strut Your Mutt added a virtual event for the first time, expanding participation from a handful of city-based events to groups nationwide. In 2017, Strut Your Mutt was a critical lifeline for shelters in communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. Looking to support your local city or county shelter? There are several organizations participating in multiple states this year. Obsessed with basset hound ears or husky tails? You’ll find plenty of breed-specific rescue groups to team up with. Think dogs are nice but cats are better? This is an event for cat groups, too.

An added bonus is the ResQWalk mobile app, which you can use to track your mileage and raise funds. I mean, we’re all out walking these days anyway since we can’t go to the movies or sit in our favorite restaurants. Right? Might as well save some dogs and cats and help our communities while doing it!

Strut Your Mutt Day will also include live streaming this year so participants nationwide can enjoy a few event favorites, such as pet costume and dog trick contests.

You can get the full lowdown on the event and register to support your favorite shelter or rescue group on the Strut Your Mutt page. You can also join our upcoming 2025 Action Team call to learn how to organize in your community and create a new strut team.

While we might not get to enjoy the amazing local vendors, dog kissing booths and canine cooling stations with kiddie pools from past in-person events, this year’s Strut Your Mutt is more important than ever for at-risk pets and the individuals and organizations working to save them. We all need a guaranteed bright spot in this dark, uncertain year. Joining the virtual lifesaving party that is Strut Your Mutt is a no-brainer.

Thank you to all of you who have been stepping up and saving lives nationwide. Happy 25th anniversary, Strut Your Mutt!

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Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society Julie Castle
CEO
Best Friends Animal Society