Local rescue groups cash in on 2016 Strut Your Mutt

In the mid-1990s, Strut Your Mutt was a local Utah event. Today it is a national phenomenon that generates millions for local rescue groups across the country.

This year Strut Your Mutt was held in 14 U.S. cities — beginning in Portland, Oregon, on September 10 and ending with huge events October 22 in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City (where it all began in 1996). This year produced a record level of support with close to $2.5 million already raised for local animal rescue operations and more being contributed through the end of the month. Strut Your Mutt was presented by BOBS from Skechers — those cool pet-themed slip-ons that I am seeing everywhere. So, a big thanks to BOBS from Skechers and our other national sponsors, Too Faced and Nature's Variety Instinct.

A big thanks as well to actor Amanda Seyfried and her best friend, Finn. Amanda and her dog were the national spokespersons for Strut Your Mutt, and they appeared on national television and online promotions, and attended the Los Angeles event last weekend, which broke all records for attendance with 3,600 participants.

And, while the strutting is over, you have until October 31 — yes, Halloween — to donate to your favorite participating organization. Here is a map of the communities where events were held this year. Click on the city of your choice and scroll down to select a local rescue group to support.

Strut Your Mutt is not your average dog walk. It is becoming a movement-wide benefit and a primary fundraising platform for hundreds of local rescue groups and shelters around the country.

The way it works is simple. Best Friends produces the events and invites local organizations to use it as a turnkey fundraiser. We provide the web platform, local organizing volunteers and promotional opportunities, so all that a local group needs to do is to line up friends, family and supporters to drum up pledges for their group.

All the money raised by that organization goes straight to their rescue efforts. As a result, some groups have been able to replace the dreaded “gala,” cover a significant portion of their operations or pay off those vet and boarding bills through a fun event that engages volunteers, generates new supporters and is easy on staff. This year’s top fundraising group, Houston Rescued Pets Movement, brought in a whopping $121,000 for their program!

Here are some highlights from Strut Your Mutt season 2016:

Salt Lake City: Delta Airlines was the top company fundraising team — appropriately named “Delta Force.” Delta Airlines has sponsored a team for every Strut Your Mutt in Salt Lake City since its inception. We also spotted what we believe to be the first goat to attend a Strut Your Mutt! He is a happy house pet goat, who was perfectly at ease around all the doggies.

Los Angeles: The L.A. event was appropriately graced by the presence of pet-loving celebrities Amanda Seyfried (our series spokesperson), Alison Pill, Angelique Cabral, Katee Sackoff, Lauren Ash, Natalie Morales and Thomas Sadoski. They generously pitched in with fundraising award presentations, silly contest judging (best pet trick, etc.) and lots of photo ops, selfies and other activities. Reports have it that the longest photo line was for the famous Tuna Melts My Heart, who patiently posed with a little white pilot’s hat and goggles on his head.

Atlanta: Typically, first time Strut Your Mutt cities have a modest goal of 500 participants and a fundraising goal of $50,000. But this new city blew past its fundraising and participation goal with 800 participants and $85,000 raised (and counting).

Phoenix: Another first time city exceeded its goal with almost 900 in attendance and $65,000 raised to date.

Minneapolis–St. Paul: The Twin Cities area event took place in the suburb of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, which officially proclaimed Sunday, September 11, as Best Friends Day! What a terrific welcome for a great event that has already generated more than $70,000 for rescuing local shelter pets.

New York City: A beautiful day and a venue overlooking the Hudson River to the west and the Manhattan skyline to the east welcomed celebrity guests from Broadway and television. Funds raised exceeded last year’s Big Apple event by more than $100,000.

If you’re picking up a theme here, I hope it is one of collaboration, because that is how we at Best Friends approach our work for the animals. We know that we can’t do it all — no single organization can — and we know that important work is being done by local organizations all across the country and only by working together can we reach our goal of ending shelter killing.

More than 1,660 local rescue groups that are members of our No More Homeless Pets Network share our vision. We encourage you to support their efforts and ours.

Together we will Save Them All.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society