All About Community

By Julie Castle

Sunday morning I pulled up to the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles to help kick off Best Friends Animal Society’s Strut Your Mutt. It was the first time we’d done a community-wide SYM benefiting multiple organizations at the same time and I was eager to see how it would all come together. Arriving at the beach, I was greeted by dozens of basset hounds grouped together (most were in costume) looking as bassets do, somewhat hung over but ready for another good party.  As I made my way through the crowd, a long line had already formed at the Belly Rub Hub and over at the Pet Communicator booth, there were many long-suffering dogs being obliged to get counseling by their enthusiastic owners.

Long before I showed up, many volunteers had already been on the job, slogging away since 5:00 a.m. moving tables, hanging banners, organizing vendors, setting up booths and registering throngs of people (I’m told 1,300 Angelenos strutted along the Santa Monica boardwalk to help achieve the mission of No More Homeless Pets).

There are always dozens of great stories from Strut Your Mutt.  It’s a festival where people demonstrate how much they love and treasure their animals.  It really shows at the event too…all of the primping and pampering to get Mucho Poocho in just the right form before trotting her out for the world to see on the boardwalk.  Coming from the rescue world, it’s a real high point given that we usually see the backside of these stories---animals in horrible shape, abused, forgotten or abandoned.

My favorite story, though, came from Lori Weise of Downtown Dog Rescue.   Lori organized Team Clancy to raise money for Downtown Dog (she raised over $6,000).  Clancy is Lori’s dog, a muscular, big, mellow pit bull.   She caught up with us during the event and shared that one of her registered “Strutters”, as walk participants are known, is a guy who takes his intact pit bull to a Sunday morning training class at the Los Angeles Coliseum that Lori promotes to South LA residents. He was so moved by Strut Your Mutt that he made the decision to get his dog fixed, which as Lori says, was a big move for him.

Strut You Mutt is another signature Best Friends Animal Society event and embodies all of the elements that we seek to provide in our outreach efforts.   Best Friends plans, organizes and produces the event, start to finish, and invites the rescue community to use the event as a platform to raise money for their respective organizations.  It strengthens the rescue community and creates opportunities for smaller, local rescue organizations to thrive and succeed by providing public exposure, engaging and meeting new volunteers, energizing supporters, raising money, adopting out animals…accomplishing their mission.

Strut Your Mutt creates a de facto collaboration for the rescue community and offers leadership on the right terms…doing something that benefits everyone.  In doing so, at least for Los Angeles on this occasion, it put $200,000 back into the rescue community to help bring about a time of No More Homeless Pets  with no muss or fuss for the participating organizations.

I guess it all came together pretty well!

So, let’s do it all again!  See you next Sunday, September 26th in New York at Pier 84/Hudson River Park, 8:30am (and possibly next year in a community near you;).

P.S.  For those of you who read my previous blog on Strut Your Mutt and were rooting for Lhasa Happy Homes, they finished in third place, raising over $25,000.   Much Love came in second place at just under $30,000 and ESRA-English Springer Rescue America came in second place, raising close to $26,000.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society