According to the ASPCA, approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters annually — and nearly 3 million of those are euthanized. Long story short: Adoption saves lives.
And it was with the “Adopt, don’t shop” movement in mind that casting director Jen Halopern (President of Pillows for Paws) and actor Felicia Greenfield (founder of Grandpa Dave’s Creature Comforts) created the RescueMen USA campaign.
In its previous two years, the RescueMen was New York City-local. This year, its founders took their message nationwide.
“We want to reach individuals who wouldn’t read a dog blog, the ones who really don’t know about puppy mills!” Greenfield told Life with Dogs. “There was no reason for [news outlets in] Denver, CO, to cover our calendar last year, but now that we feature Steve Greig (Greig is well known in the Rocky Mountain region for his animal rescue efforts. Check out his popular Instagram account!), we’re relevant to their readers! His story is fantastic, unique, and inspiring whether or not you’re an ‘animal person!'”
RescueMen showcases inspirational men who have all rescued their companion animals and is intended to promote how extraordinary and loving shelter animals can be, while erasing any stigma surrounding their health or behavior. Greenfield says shelter pets are often misunderstood by those who aren’t involved with rescue.
“They are often thought of as ‘inferior’ to those bought from a store or breeder,” she told us. “This could not be farther from the truth. I personally don’t care if a dog is purebred — but was still stunned to learn that 25 percent of shelter animals in the U.S. actually are purebred! One thing that most of our men have shared with us is how their animal just knows they were saved, and that they show eternal gratitude to their rescuers.”
Beyond that, she noted, many shelter pets are already trained and housebroken!
So who are the men of RescueMen? They come from all walks. Greenfield says (surprise, surprise!) that for she and partner Halpern, interviewing potential models is the best part of the process.
“They sometimes come in nervous, sometimes on guard, but the moment their fur baby becomes part of the conversation we see their smiley, happy selves! Some of the rescue stories are heartbreaking, some are as simple as ‘I wanted a dog, so I went to the shelter,’ but each story ends with a sincere smile, and we all leave the interview feeling inspired!”
Greenfield knows well the power of social media. In fact, she’s harnessed it not only to “seduce” models, but impress her kids.
“They are huge fans of the Nickelodeon show ‘Henry Danger,'” she told us. “One morning before schoo,l we were talking about the star of the show, Cooper Barnes, whose character is a super hero. My 10-year-old suggested it would be pretty cool if he could be in the calendar.”
With the light bulb still floating overhead, they jumped on Barnes’ social media accounts. Lo and behold, there were several posts promoting shelter animals! Greenfield spend a day bombarding his Twitter and Instagram accounts until the young actor replied.
“Now he and his rescue cat, Fonzie, are our April calendar boys…. And for a day, my kids thought I was the coolest mom ever!”
The RescueMen 2017 calendar drops next month and a $25 donation to the cause gets you one of your very own. Donate/order here…. And check out this fun video of the process!