It’s time to Strut Your Mutt and raise money to save lives

Let’s face it: Saving lives takes money, and for a local rescue group, expenses like veterinary costs, boarding, grooming, food and vaccines quickly add up and serious fundraising becomes a pressing issue.

But fundraising can be a challenge, especially for a smaller organization that has to commit most of the time and attention of its staff (if it has any) and volunteers to the mission of the organization, whatever that might be. In our world, that mission usually means saving shelter pets or delivering spay/neuter to those who need it most. And, beyond the time and attention required to produce a benefit event or to mount a worthwhile funding campaign, the costs involved constitute too high a hurdle for many groups to get over. That’s where Strut Your Mutt comes in.

This annual event has grown immensely from its humble beginnings more than 20 years ago in Salt Lake City.  This year, 12 cities will host Strut Your Mutt, with the goal of breaking last year’s fundraising totals of $1.6 million raised for local rescue organizations across the country. In some cases, that lifesaving money represents the bulk of a group’s fundraising efforts for the year.

It’s a very simple idea that allows Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network partners to piggyback their fundraising on our production and promotion of what is collectively the largest fundraising dog walk in the country. And there’s virtually no cost to the local rescue groups.

This year’s Strut Your Mutt series kicked off last weekend in Portland, Oregon, and Minneapolis. This coming weekend, there will be two more — one in Kanab, Utah (at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary), and one in Austin, Texas. And the following weekend, we’ll be in New York City and Jacksonville, Florida.

Strut Your Mutt draws hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of participants, who line up to walk to save animal lives. All the funds they raise go to their favorite local rescue organizations. Each is a high-energy, uplifting event that draws entire families in support of homeless pets. In some cities this year, the event kicks off with a 5K run for the more athletic, and then the walk for everyone else. After the walk is over, the fun begins in a festival setting with great vendors and fun activities such as doggie musical chairs, a pet look-alike contest, raffles, special guests, food and music.

The ability for these groups to use Best Friends Strut Your Mutt’s online fundraising platform and join in the event without having to worry about event planning or production or any of the costs is a win-win for the animals. This type of collaboration is a big part of the Best Friends ethos, and it’s a big reason why I’m intensely proud to be a part of this movement to Save Them All.

In 2014, the 1,300-plus No More Homeless Pets Network partners around the country saved more than 88,000 animals. This year, roughly 20 percent of those partners will take part in the Strut Your Mutt events happening across the country and they will raise vital funds necessary to continue their missions as part of the no-kill movement.

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to participate if Strut Your Mutt is coming to your city (or a city near you). Check out this list of the remaining events. If you are unable to make it to one of our 12 live events, please consider participating in the Strut Your Mutt Challenge, which allows you to participate virtually through November 7. So, sign up and raise money to help homeless pets!

Together, we can Save Them All.

Julie Castle with Sunny the dog
Julie Castle
Best Friends Animal Society