The Little Event That Could

By Julie Castle

It’s been a little over 15 years since I helped Best Friends Animal Society launch their first Strut Your Mutt in Salt Lake City.   Back then, I was a volunteer in my mid twenties.  I was good friends with the premier event planner in Salt Lake, Gary Howard, and I asked if he could meet me for lunch to share some tips on planning the event.  Needless to say, I left lunch feeling as if I’d been punched in the gut. Gary told me there were already too many charity walk events in Salt Lake and it was unlikely we’d ever see more than 300 participants and probably wouldn’t ever raise more than a few thousand dollars.   Despite his advice, I persisted.  As he predicted, the first year was a resounding disaster. It rained, then snowed, a donated sound system was destroyed when a happy-go-lucky golden retriever pulled it off the table, and every single miserable participant looked like they’d survived the siege of St. Petersburg.  I was certain that was the end of the beginning for Strut Your Mutt.

This past year, Salt Lake Strut Your Mutt raised over $188,000 and had over 2,550 participants.  Year after year, the event gains in popularity and more importantly gains in much needed funds for saving homeless pets.

This Sunday, September 19th, Best Friends will be hosting its first community wide Strut Your Mutt event in Los Angeles and one week later on Sunday, September 26th, we’ll be hosting the same event in New York City.

Beyond raising community awareness about the plight of homeless pets in these cities, these events bring the rescue community together under the common goal of achieving No More Homeless Pets and provide grassroots rescue partners a platform to raise life saving funds for their own organizations.

So who will you be rooting for this month?  Will it be LA’s Lhasa Happy Homes, who has already raised $15,600 for their rescue?  Or will it be Bully Breed Rescue of NY, with dog pack captain, Nicole Bruck leading 27 walkers?  Or will it be one of the dozens of other participating rescue groups or one of over a thousand walkers committed to ending the killing in their area shelters?

Happy Strutting!

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society