Use pink pets to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and you can raise awarenessand raise money for the causewith this fun activity that engages your clients.

Recently we organized and ran a fundraiser with the team at our grooming facility Doggone Healthy to raise money for the Pink Ribbon Project, a program that provides mammograms to women who can't afford them. They also provide comfort bags to women going through treatment, along with other feel good services.

I come from a family of breast cancer survivors, and so I'm passionate about this cause. Our technician supervisor helped us select the facility to work with, because her mother is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer through them. It's our dream that clinics and grooming facilities all over the United States and beyond raise money for this cause. On the next pages, we'll describe what we did-and how you can launch a program at your practice. 


Do you want to get involved too but don't know how? Here's what we did: We dyed pets pink. Using a pet safe, temporary hair dye we encouraged pet owners to select a tuft or tail or Mohawk or ears and dyed them pink. The suggested donation was $5 and raised $258.81 for the Pink Ribbon Project at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center. We called our campaign "Paint Your Pet Pink" for a cause, and it was met with smiles, giggles, funds and paw shakes. 

People ask why would we do such a thing? Do the pets get embarrassed? Does it hurt them? Does it make a difference? I'll answer each of these questions on the following pages. 


Why would we do such a thing?

1. Raising money for this particular group is personal. Each of us knows or has known or is affected by this disease.

2. Pets are an extension of people. They become little furry children who support us in many ways. This is just another way for them to offer support.

3. It raises the profile of the nonprofit. When people approach an owner on the street, asking why is the pet pink, they can spread the word about the services this organization offers.

4. It gives us a face in the community as a facility with team members who care about things other than ourselves. (And we did raise revenue for our facility as well. The dye had to be applied on a clean dog, so we recommended the purchase of a bath with a donation to the cause.) It showed the community that we cared.

5. It made survivors smile. It made grumpy people smile. Even the people who scoffed smiled. The world could always use more smiles.


Do the pets get embarrassed?

Not that we noticed. In fact they enjoyed all the extra attention they received while "pinked."


Does it hurt them?

It is a pet safe temporary hair dye and did not hurt them at all. That said, there are pets that are sensitive to shampoos and dyes, and we would not recommend they participate but would issue a pink bandana instead.


Does it make a difference? Absolutely!

1. While it was only $258.81, it was $258.81 they would not have received otherwise.

2. We had free coverage in the newspaper with a press release I sent out.

3. We had recognition on the street. I had my own pet out with me for breakfast at a little cafe in the area. The owner came out to talk to me, noting this was the third pet she had seen that week who was pink and wanted to know what was up. I was able to tell her about the program and our facility and my scruffhound Ed enjoyed some extra scratches!

4. It made cancer fighters and survivors smile. That was worth all of the time and energy and pink dyed hands and arms.


So why should you pink your pets? I want to see this program go nation wide this October! I want to see our pets, who support us in so many ways, be able to do this as well. I want our face to be one of smiles, generosity and hope in the community. I think the way to be seen in this light is to make the effort to give back. What I propose is to present the information to the clinics that offer grooming first. Have them be the first tier of the fundraising campaign this October. We offered the baths throughout the day. We also offered the pink to any pet that was already coming in for a groom. We recommend the grooming facilities do that as well. 

The second tier of this campaign would be offering the "pinking" on one day of the month with a first come, first serve set up. I see it as a party atmosphere with pink balloons, streamers, pink shirts on the team and, of course, pink pets. 

Each clinic could select an organization for breast cancer in their area to donate their personally raised funds.

Julie Mullins is a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and lead trainer at Doggone Healthy in Calabash, N.C.

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