NYC "Pup Crawl" Supports Shelter Pets
Dog lovers prepare to cross Brooklyn Bridge for third annual event.
Joe Hassan had recently left his job in the health care industry in May 2009 when he learned that one million pets would lose their homes due to housing foreclosures, as reported by the ASPCA. The high number "stuck with" Hassan, and continued to resonate with him when he decided one day to take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Then, something clicked in Hassan's mind.
"I thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool to get dog lovers together to raise awareness about this national crisis, which is hitting here too, in New York. Maybe we could take this icon, the Brooklyn Bridge, and use it as a way to shed light on what is happening,'" Hassan told Zootoo.
Hassan talked the idea over with friends, and plans for the Brooklyn Bridge "Pup Crawl" soon began to materialize, aided by enthusiastic pet owners. The donation of glow-in-the-dark leashes to help illuminate the walkers on the nighttime march were later donated to the cause.
Now in its third year, Hassan is expecting 500 people at the pup crawl on Saturday, April 16, placing the event at full capacity. Last year, approximately 250 people and accompanying dogs -- some with their owners, some adoptable dogs -- walked across the Brooklyn Bridge in name of raising money for different rescue organizations across the country.
The pup crawl brought in $2,500 in total donations last year; Hassan expects donations this year to top out at around $6,000.
"When we started, we expected like 50 or 100 people, so the fact that we got triple that amount is a testament to the dog lovers' community's ability to pull together and rally to support animals all over the place," Hassan said. "I can't say I was surprised, but I was definitely pleased."
Pup crawlers are mostly made up of New Yorkers and people in the local area. But it also includes some travelers like Kari Whitman, who runs the Ace of Hearts dog rescue in Los Angeles, Calif.
Whitman will walk the crawl this year with an adoptable dog from a New York City shelter -- likely the one on East 185th street in the Bronx, because it has the highest kill rate in New York City.
Though Ace of Hearts is one of the five organizations that will benefit from the crawl's proceeds, Whitman says that the event also provides a unique opportunity for animal activists and enthusiasts to bond.
"It can be like you are a lonely sailor," Whitman said of the life of an animal rescue worker. "It is very impeding on your life and very debilitating, and it's very rewarding to have this kind of event that can help you create a big system and sort of keep us going, both financially and otherwise."
This year's crawl is also extending to the West Coast, premiering for the first time in Upland, Calif., on Euclid Avenue, a busy and scenic thoroughfare in the city.
Margaret Coffman, founder of Helping Out Pets Everyday, or HOPE, a rescue organization for dogs and cats, organized the California pup crawl, which is also slated to occur on April 16 and plans to bring in approximately 50 crawlers.
"We signed up over 50 people, which is a drop in the bucket compared to what is going on in New York, but in our area we are happy with it," Coffman explained.
Coffman decided to host the event after she received an e-mail from Hassan, inviting her and others across the country to hold a pup crawl in their communities.
The draw of hosting a fundraiser is always present, says Coffman, but this event offered a different opportunity to raise awareness about pets that linger in shelters and wind up being put to sleep.
"People don't realize how many pets are being put to sleep, and they just have no concept of how spaying and neutering can be used to stop all of what is happening," she explained. "None of these animals should have to face death like that."
Though Euclid Avenue can't compare to the Brooklyn Bridge, Coffman says, but it will hopefully draw attention to the group of crawlers -- two legged and four -- making their way down the avenue in the evening.
The New York City Pup Crawl is going to convene at around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 16. And though the event is now maxed out at capacity, Hassan says he hopes next year's crawl will accommodate more people.
In the meantime, he encourages people to try to organize their own pup crawls, or to donate to the organizations the Crawl is supporting in name of the event. People could also buy the light-up leashes, available in five different colors, used in the Crawl -- they cost $14.95, and $3 will then go toward the Crawl's supported organizations.
For more information on the NYC Pup Crawl, visit thepupcrawl.com.
And to find out more about the Ace of Hearts dog rescue, visit their website.
Update: the Pup Crawl was postponed because of dangerous weather in New York City on the night of April 16 -- stay tuned to the Pup Crawl website for news about the rescheduled date!
What do you think of the Pup Crawl? Have you heard of similar events in your area? Tell us below!
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