Iowa State University '13
On a shining September day, underneath the chimes of the campanile and the faint shuffle of crisp fallen leaves, students and faculty walking the Iowa State University (ISU) campus heard an unfamiliar sound: a chorus of barking. Many students and faculty followed the sound to discover that the Gamma Chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma, National Sorority Inc. was holding their 3rd Annual Rent-a-Puppy Event. Rent-a-Puppy, held on September 19th and 20th, worked in collaboration with local shelters to raise money for the shelters, the sorority, and get the dogs some good old fashioned belly rubs.
So, what is Rent-a-Puppy? Rent-a-Puppy allows you to “rent” a dog for a total of a half an hour. Prices are $10 for one person or $15 for a group of 2 or 3 people. The dogs and renters are required to stay in a fenced-in area, and the dogs are to be kept on their leash. This event has always had very positive responses from the general public of Ames and the students. For the past three years, the sisters of Gamma Chapter have been doing this event. It has been highlighted on the front page of the ISU Daily, the Ames Tribute, on ISU TV, multiple blog sites and several social networks, all without prompting from the chapter. That kind of publicity sums up one thing: everyone loves dogs.
This insight is exactly what inspired the sister who originally presented the idea to the other members. Although very skeptical and hesitant at first, the chapter ultimately realized that it was worth the work in the long run. Not only has the chapter raised over $2000 for the shelters, but the most satisfying part of this event is hearing about how many of the dogs now have loving homes because of the time they spent with residents of Ames and students at Iowa State. The Chapter openly advertises which dogs are available for adoption, and keeps information about participating shelters on the tables. They also have information about volunteering and puppy mill awareness brochures.
Think this is something that you’re interested in doing on your campus? It’s a good event and a great cause, but it’s not easy. It takes many hours of planning, lots of helpers, and of course, the hardest thing to guarantee: dogs. Gamma Chapter is finally getting into a rhythm with the local shelters where they have the same interested shelters each year, but they still hope the numbers of dogs grow so they can raise more money for the shelters and get more dogs out there to be seen.
Here is a general step-by-step process:
1) Choose your date and time: We generally have this event as an annual event in the fall, just before it starts getting really cold, and around the time the students on campus start missing their puppies from back home.
2) Reserve your area and get your event approved: All universities worry about the risk management aspect of the event and want to make sure that you have a safe environment for all parties involved. It may take quite a bit of time to get a big event like this approved.
3) Contact your local area shelters: make your contact list long. From our experience, many of the shelters won’t even respond, and many of them get so much money from other donations that they don’t need any more.
4) Advertisement: This is the key element. You can be as prepared as you want, and will get on-lookers who want to sign up the day of, but getting the word out to people about the event is important, especially when you have pre-registration.
5) Get your materials together: generally, you’ll want to keep the dogs in a controlled area. We have a snow fence that we use, and we also separate the shelters to prevent potential health risks for the dogs. Also, contact local businesses for donations of materials and/or dogs treats for selling.
6) Have a good system and LOTS of volunteers: This event cannot function with one person. It involves many hands and a smooth system of directing renters to sign waivers, pay, hold IDs, show the renters to their dogs, manage time, etc. Have a debriefing before the event to make sure all volunteers know what their roles are.
7) Have fun with it! This really is a great event for all parties involved. We hope to continue holding this event for many years to come and to get the Iowa State students involved and excited about animal abuse prevention and getting those cute dogs a loving home.
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