When our team founded We the Dogs DC last August, our goal was to channel all of the incredible support and enthusiasm that we saw from the DC dog community during the Bipawtisan March! Our hope was that we could create an organization that would provide us with a platform to bring the community together to support rescue organizations in a unique way. Over the past year, we have been overwhelmed by the level of support and love that we’ve seen in this community. We were worried that the newness of our efforts might wear off, but instead, this group has grown significantly, and again and again, we’ve been staggered by your generosity and willingness to help. In the first year since the launch of We the Dogs DC, we have raised close to $12,000 for animal rescue organizations! That’s an incredible amount to have raised, especially by a small organization run by volunteers.
We celebrated our one year “Barkday” yesterday, and spent the day posting stories and memories from individuals who shared what We the Dogs DC means to them and to the community! We also wanted to take the time to let everyone know what this community means to us, and to share a few of our favorite moments from the first year. Thank you all for your continued, unflagging support! We can’t wait to find out all of the opportunities that Year 2 will bring for We the Dogs DC, and to see what we can do together as this organization grows!
1. Holding our first pet supply drive and finding out just how generous this community really is.
One of our first projects after launching was the Lend-a-Paw supply drive that was held in October 2017. When our team learned about the Humane Rescue Alliance’s HOPE program, we knew we wanted to get involved. We were so inspired by the mission of the program, which works to address the lack of accessible, affordable pet care resources by providing free services and information to communities that do not have access to the pet supplies and care that they need. We only had a week to advertise the Lend-a-Paw supply drive, so we thought that we’d be able to divide the team up and fit the donations from multiple parks into the same cars. We created a one-day schedule of five different pet supply collection points at local dog parks, and shared it on our social media pages.
We failed to account for how absolutely amazing the DC dog community is, because we were blown away by the response we received! In just 6 hours, we collected 255 pounds of food, 99 bags of treats, 423 toys, 200 leashes and collars, 15 crates, and more. We packed our cars to the brim and had to call in reinforcements to get all the donations back. Things were so tight that Amber drove home with a toy that made farm animal noises the whole way… and there was no way to shut it off, since everything had been fit into the car as if it was a game of Tetris. We were stunned by your generosity! In total, you donated 1,480 pet supply items. After that day, we know better than to underestimate the DC dogs community’s passion for helping animals, even at a moment’s notice!
2. When We the Dogs DC marched in the Cherry Blossom Parade.
Spring in Washington, DC is synonymous with the Japanese cherry blooms lining the city. Over the years many of us have made the spring pilgrimage to the Tidal Basin along with what feels like a million other people, all of whom are out to get that perfect photo with the beautiful pink blossoms. When we heard about the Cherry Blossom Parade, we knew that would be a fun way to spread our message! We rented a silver Mustang convertible and decked it out in paper cherry blossoms and We the Dogs gear. About a dozen dogs from the community marched down Constitution Ave wearing flower collars and repping We the Dogs DC. We may be biased, but we think our group got the loudest cheers along the parade route. Next year we hope to have an even large group in the parade.
3. Working together to help lost dogs find their way home.
When we started We the Dogs DC, we had envisioned using the platform to connect with the community to benefit rescue organizations. We didn’t realize how much the community would also connect to help each other. One of our favorite memories from the handle is seeing how quickly word would spread when we notified the community if a pup was lost. Nothing makes us happier than seeing an owner reconnect with a pup that’s found its way home, and we’re so proud to be a part of a community that works hard to spread the word to make that happen!
4. Watching the special takeovers on the Instagram handle.
The word ‘dogs’ may be in our name, but we still seek to help all animal rescues in the DC area. This bipawtisanship was very apparent when we had two special guest animals hold the handle during the year. Pineapple the Hedgehog showed us a day in a her life and introduced the community to a pet many of us had never thought of having before. Then for a fun Easter/ April Fool’s Day twist, We the Dogs DC became We the Bunnies for the day to showcase what life was like for a floppy eared DC resident.
5. Seeing our community Instagram account turn into a real community.
For many of us, living and working in the DC metropolitan area can be an exercise in insanity chock full of long commutes, working overtime, and partisan politics. Our over-scheduled lives can cause us to live in neighborhood bubbles we rarely leave since it’s so much easier to visit the same local restaurants and dog parks. We the Dogs DC gave us all a way to cut through that bubble and allowed us to meet people all over the DC area who share our love of dogs. In addition to the “in-person” events we host, our community Instagram has given us all a way to connect with others who share a common bond: our pups.
To date, over 365 dogs have held the handle for our Instagram, and our waiting list is so large that we have enough people signed up to last through March 2019. The community Instagram account has fostered a sense of online community that has led to numerous friendships, walk/meetup groups, and happy hours buddies. Many people who may not have otherwise met though their everyday lives, or who have wildly different political views, can now easily get to know each other through their pets. Most of all, the best part about this community of dog lovers and advocates is seeing how much good we can all do when we work together.
Thank you all for an incredible first year! If you have any questions about our organization or want to know how you can get involved, send us an email at [email protected].