One heck of a finish line: Strut Your Mutt events raise $2.3 million for homeless pets

By Julie Castle

I love it! And I have a very close personal relationship to it. Of course, I’m talking about Strut Your Mutt, Best Friends Animal Society’s annual national fundraising event for our network partners around the country.

The launch of Strut Your Mutt

Back in the mid-1990s, Best Friends launched Strut Your Mutt in Utah as a fundraising dog walk for Best Friends. I organized and promoted the Salt Lake City inaugural event and all subsequent events up to 2007, when I transitioned to lead Best Friends’ community programs and services division. As we built out our national partner network, it was obvious that this fun and engaging event had the potential to be a national fundraiser for the no-kill movement.

A fundraising event for our partners, too

In 2010, we transformed Strut Your Mutt from a Best Friends–only event to one that all of our partners could piggy-back on and raise the funds they need to take in shelter pets and pay boarding and vet bills. It has grown into so much more than we hoped for or could have imagined.

The way it works is simple: Best Friends sets up the online Strut Your Mutt platform and organizes all the promotion and venue arrangements. Local partner organizations just sign up their volunteer dog walkers, who in turn sign up family and friends who pledge funds to sponsor their walk. All the money raised goes not to Best Friends, but to the local rescue organizations.

Raising millions for homeless dogs and cats

Strut Your Mutt has been a godsend to our partners. This year, the 13 events around the country raised $2,327,651, with almost all of that going to grassroots organizations. The top fundraising team, Joey's Elder Paws Rescue/H.E.A.L. Sanctuary, in New York state, raised more than $173,000 for their work!

In fact, many groups have been able to replace other fundraisers like the annual gala (which, for small groups, usually consumes more time and energy than it’s worth) with Strut Your Mutt, a turn-key fundraiser that requires no out-of-pocket funds, engages volunteers and is just a load of fun.

Strut Your Mutt has come a long way since those early days in Salt Lake City. The first event was graced by freezing rain, and a rambunctious golden retriever got tangled up in the stage microphone cord and shorted out the PA system. Ah, the stories! I’m sure today’s events team has their own war stories that they will share as “back in the day” tales when their turn comes.

I love Strut Your Mutt because it embodies the Best Friends ideals of collaboration, resource sharing and generosity.

A no-kill future

We know that the no-kill movement is the ultimate local and grassroots movement because the local shelter is where the rubber meets the road. Financially healthy and productive local organizations are key to ending the practice of killing pets in shelters nationwide.

Strut Your Mutt is just one of the ways that Best Friends supports local efforts. To see how your local shelter is doing on the road to 2025, please visit

Together, we will Save Them All.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society