I embarked on a rather ambitious project at the end of 2016 to capture portraits of rescue dogs and collate the images and adoption stories into a book. It turns out that publishing a book, especially one about mixed breed rescue dogs, is rather difficult and so the best option to make the project actually happen has been to crowdfund. With just over three weeks to go, I’m sitting with R76,500 of the R125,000 I actually need to print a run of 500 books. Thundafund, the platform I’ve chosen to use to raise the money only releases funds if I reach the target, if not, everyone who contributed money gets a refund and it’s game over.
I have learned a great deal about how generosity over the three weeks that the crowdfunding has been live. I have been blown away by the generosity of some individuals and to be quite frank, insulted by the lack of others. This has given me great insight into what it must be like for dogs that sit at shelters, it’s like a lottery. Many of the dogs that feature in the Mutts project were deposited at shelters because their owners didn’t want them anymore, some were abused before being rescued and some found themselves there by accident of birth. All of them are at the mercy of someone seeing them and choosing to adopt them when there are not enough homes to go around.
I’m doing what I can to make a difference. This project is not just about raising funds for charity (the book proceeds are going to CLAW and Sandton SPCA), it’s about raising awareness about the number of great dogs that sit in shelters and encouraging people to adopt. Mixed breed dogs are at the bottom of the pile when it come to being adopted. ‘What breed is it?’ is a question I hear so often, and I wish it didn’t matter to people. I think dogs should be chosen on their individual merit and whether they have a personality that’s compatible with the rest of the family, not how closely they resemble a specific breed, like that somehow makes them more or less deserving of a home.
I’ve seen the prejudice that’s a play on two occasions involving pedigree dogs that found themselves at Sandton SPCA. In 2014 a Schnauzer puppy farm was closed down and a hundred Schanuzers ended up at rescue centres around the country. Thirteen ended up at SSPCA and they were all adopted in a heartbeat, in fact people were falling over themselves to get their hands on one of these previously disadvantaged pedigree dogs. Suddenly there were homes available all over the show, but yet the mixed breed mutts that make up the majority of the dogs at the SPCA didn’t get a look in. The second time was at the end of 2016 when two British Bulldogs were dumped at Sandton SPCA and there were hundreds of people clamouring to adopt them. I wanted to scream, ‘WHAT ABOUT THE BROWN DOGS? WHAT ABOUT THE BLACK DOGS? THEY ARE JUST AS DESERVING, WHY CAN’T YOU GIVE THEM A CHANCE TOO? WHERE’S THE ENTHUSIASM FOR THEM?’
As screaming at people is generally not helpful, this project is my way of standing up for the thousands of Mutts who deserve a chance and for all the Mutts that got put to sleep because their turn never came. Imagine if mixed breed dogs were as popular as their pedigree counterparts. Shelters would be empty. As it stands over 500 dogs are put to sleep EVERY DAY in South Africa and in the US this figure is at 1800 PER DAY!! I’m doing what I can to change this. I can’t do it alone though, I need help, meaningful change happens with a community effort. You can make a difference too by joining the Mutts revolution.
To find out more about the Mutts project and how you can get involved and help to make it a reality click here.
There are seven fabulous Mutts in the running to feature on the cover of the book, click here to find out their adoption stories and vote for your favourite.