As pet parents of two mixed breed rescue dogs, we sometimes lament the lack of cute pet products that tout our favorite breed: rescue.
Last year, two Cincinnati dog lovers and entrepreneurs got together and launched Project Blue Collar, an initiative that focuses on the positive side of adoption. Carole Feeny and Kristin Waters met in 2010 at the gym and quickly learned of each other’s interest in animal welfare. “Although we worked with different rescues (Carole with a foster-based rescue and I at a no-kill shelter), we started networking dogs together and helped each other out at different times when our respective groups were full,” recalls Kristin.
From her experience at the rescue, Carole knew that rescue dogs undergo a wonderful transformation on the road to adoption, a change that the general public often misses due to massive advertising campaigns that “engender our pity with tragic images of animals in need and leave us thinking of them as damaged goods. While these marketing campaigns are successful at raising funds they are not helping rescuers show the positive qualities of adoptable animals. This realization prompted me to think of a way to promote the value of the rescue dog and get them to be the marketers of their own movement. Thus, Project Blue Collar was born.”
Carole and Kristin quickly came together on this project they named Project Blue Collar – Support the Underdog™. The blue collar, modeled on popular silicone cause bracelets that signify a wearer’s affinity for a movement, identifies the dog’s background and its transformation from a homeless animal to a cherished family member.
As with a cause bracelet, the blue collar serves as a conversation starter. “We hear story after story about people asking about the Blue Collar on their dogs,” explains Kristin. “That’s the whole purpose: To create conversations and inspire others to learn about the joy of adopting a rescue dog. When 10,000 dogs are needlessly killed each day in our nation’s shelters, we need to educate people about the value of rescue dogs, and then change will begin to happen - one dog at a time.”
Carole, the company's president, says when the conversation begins, it gives the pet parent a chance to share their pet’s story. “The story of rooting for the underdog to transform into a superhero is a compelling theme in our culture. Our movement translates the power of that possibility to orphaned animals. We believe that by growing this movement one grassroot at a time, we will create a groundswell of change and impact the course of animal welfare in the future.”
And Project Blue Collar isn’t only for mixed breeds like our Irie and Tiki but for all rescues. Explains Carole, “Whether a purebred or a mixed breed, rescues are rescues and people who have adopted them are proud. Our Blue Collar gives people a way to display their pride and tell their story. Their enthusiasm inspires and educates others to follow their example.”
Photo courtesy Project Blue Collar