Where are you strutting this September?

Best Friends series of 11 Strut Your Mutt events that span the country from Portland to New York City is in full swing. The series began on Labor Day weekend with a kick-off strut here at Best Friends Sanctuary that covered the mile from the Welcome Center to Angels Landing.

This past weekend, the series got into big city mode with Strut Your Mutt in Jacksonville, Florida, where over 1,000 eager participants gathered at Riverside Park to celebrate their commitment to local shelters and rescues in helping realize Jacksonville’s vision for a no-kill community.

The Jacksonville strut raised nearly $112,000. This money goes directly to local rescue efforts. Generating resources for our Network partners around the country is what Strut Your Mutt is all about – that and of course having a great time with your dog and your dog-loving friends.

The model is simple: Best Friends produces and promotes the event, which includes setting up all the nuts and bolts of the individual event – location, permitting, tents, signage, collateral material, rental, advertising, etc. – the whole enchilada. Local organizations and individuals are invited to create “dog packs” that their friends and supporters can join as walkers to generate sponsorship for their chosen rescue. The only rider from Best Friends is that participating organizations must use the funds generated for their adoption and/or spay/neuter programs. All the money that a dog pack raises, less PayPal and web-processing fees, goes to their designated animal charity. The top fundraiser at the Jacksonville Strut Your Mutt, English Springer Rescue America, beat their $32,000 goal by more than $4K. That’s great news for the animals and great news for our rescue partners. In some cases, the money raised from Strut Your Mutt covers a local rescue group’s entire annual operating budget.

Last year, nearly 11,000 people nationwide took part in Best Friends Animal Society’s Strut Your Mutt. Together, these two- and four-legged walkers earned nearly $1.3 million for homeless pets and 180 animal welfare groups who serve them, helping to save the lives of pets in shelters all across the country. This year’s fundraising goal is $2 million, and we have added new local events in Houston and San Francisco, in addition to the struts that we hosted last year in Austin, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Salt Lake City, and Lafayette.

What I love about Strut Your Mutt is the generosity it embodies – the same generosity that Best Friends has embodied since its beginning. You can never go wrong being generous, putting others first, and helping others succeed. This is what Strut Your Mutt is all about. (Full disclosure, part of my affection for Strut Your Mutt is based on the fact that I launched the inaugural strut in the mid-1990s in Salt Lake City. It was absolutely a mild disaster, but we kept rolling with it, and it got bigger and better each year! You can read more about that first memorable event and its early challenges from Francis.)

I’m happy to say that apart from the weather, Best Friends now has everything else buttoned down, so that we can offer our partners a turnkey, trouble-free fundraising event with none of the teeth-cutting – umm, adventures – that characterized that first Salt Lake strut. It’s so effective, in fact, that some of our rescue partners have been able to forgo their traditional time-consuming, hassle-ridden annual benefit in favor of a fun, member- and volunteer-engaging day at Strut Your Mutt.

The next Strut Your Mutt out of the gate will be in Los Angeles on September 15. You can see the full schedule and sign up to support your favorite organization at strutyourmutt.org.

No strut happening near you? No problem! You can sign up for our virtual Strut Across America and raise money for any of the participating No More Homeless Pets Network partners from Alaska to Louisiana and beyond.

A big thanks goes to our Strut Your Mutt national sponsors: MINI USA, Petco Foundation, Natural Balance, BarkBox, Petfinder.com.

Stay tuned for reports throughout the month as we take aim of our goal of $2 million for local adoption and spay/neuter programs. Together, we can Save Them All.