Introduce yourselves! Tell us who you are and what you do.
We the Dogs is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that was formed by five women from the DC area who connected on Instagram through accounts set up to feature our dogs. Our mission is to connect dog owners and advocates so we can work together to raise donations for animal rescue organizations in our community.
In addition to our fundraising efforts, one of the unique things about our organization is that we created community Instagram accounts to build and strengthen a network of local pet owners and to highlight dog-friendly locations and activities in our community. We currently have accounts in two cities: Washington DC and New York City. Every day, a new dog is selected to “hold the handle” and take control of the Instagram account so they can share photos/videos featuring their favorites places and activities. We add each dog-friendly location tagged on the accounts to Two Paws Up, a searchable map tool that we built to highlight dog-friendly locations, activities, and businesses in an easily accessible way.
More importantly, the connections we build with the community allow us to have a far greater impact when working to benefit animal rescue organizations. You can sign your pup up to take over our community Instagram accounts using our online scheduling tool.
Why did you decide to start We the Dogs?
Instagram is full of people, pups, and others who call themselves “influencers.” We came up with the concept of We the Dogs after getting several influencer offers for our own dogs on Instagram. We realized that the same concept of “influencing” could be used to support rescue organizations, and that social media could be a powerful way to reach others who wanted to make a difference in the community.
The idea for We the Dogs originally started with a single event: the Bipawtisan March, which was held in Washington DC in June 2017, and raised more than $10,000 for rescue organizations in the DC area. Due to the success of the event and positive community response, we decided to form a nonprofit to host regular fundraisers to support local animal rescue organizations. We the Dogs DC was officially launched in August 2017.
How does We the Dogs work?
Our team is led by five of the women (and their six pups) who founded the organization:
- Renee Arellano and Kingston (@kingstonbudz)
- Kat Calvitti, Stella, and Alan (@stellathespy)
- Marissa Dimino and Teddy (@teddy4president)
- Amber Duggan and Izzy (@izzy_the_chow)
- Shannon DiMartino and Ruby (@rubycubethebulldog).
We all have full-time jobs so everything we do for We the Dogs is solely on a volunteer basis. Each of us plays a different role in the organization based on our different interests and skills. To be honest, I don’t think any of us really knew what this would turn into when we planned our first event, and every single part of the process has been such a rewarding experience.
We do this because we all genuinely care about rescue animal organizations, and we have a talent for thinking of unique ways to bring the community together to benefit the local organizations that need it most. It truly has been incredible to see how much we can do when we work together as a community.
How does the donation process work?
Because our team works solely on a volunteer basis, we’re able to use 100% of every donation we receive to benefit local animal rescue organizations. Donations are generated through hosting community events, crowdfunding campaigns, and merchandise sales. In some cases, We the Dogs will host an event or fundraiser to benefit a specific animal rescue organization. All donations received from the event or fundraiser are then directly donated to that organization. Our organization also collects donations and uses them to fund larger fundraising projects and events. This allows us to turn smaller donations into larger donations that we donate directly to different animal rescue organizations in our community.
In 2018, we raised almost $30,000 to benefit different local animal rescue organizations around the greater Washington, DC area. If you’re interested in making a donation to support our efforts, you can do so here.
What’s next for We the Dogs?
We the Dogs was originally based only in the Washington DC area (@wethedogsdc). On January 29, we launched our second community account in New York City (@wethedogsnyc). We decided to launch We the Dogs NYC to expand our outreach and to support rescue organizations in other areas.
Right now, we’re leading the effort, but eventually, we’re planning to select other individuals to join our team to host fundraising events to support animal rescue organization in NYC, just as we do here in DC. We’re hoping that by launching We the Dogs NYC, we can grow the same type of grassroots community to support NYC rescue organizations that we’ve created in DC.
The level of support we’ve already received has been incredible. We had multiple companies donate prizes for a launch day giveaway we hosted on our community Instagram, which helped us raise awareness about our organization. We also hosted a Yappy Hour to celebrate the launch at Fifty Hotel & Suites by Affinia, a dog-friendly hotel in New York City, and got to meet tons of pups in the community. Photos from the Yappy Hour can be found here. We’re excited to see what’s next for our organization and what we can do when we work together as a community!
Where can the DailyBarker community connect with you?
Additionally, We the Dogs DC just published “Dogs of the District,” a hardcover book featuring photos of dogs in iconic locations in the DC area. You can pick up a copy here. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to four local animal rescue organizations selected by the community.
Are you interested in having a We the Dogs community Instagram account for your city? Use the comment section to let us know what city we should expand to next!
Amber Duggan is the proud owner of Izzy the Chow, who is also known as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Fluff. Izzy is an 11 year old chow chow, and she was adopted 5 years ago from Frederick County Animal Control. Amber is originally from Michigan, and started Izzy’s Instagram account (@izzy_the_chow) as a way to share photos of her with family and friends back home. However, Izzy’s account grew quickly, and became a way for other chow chow owners and rescue dog advocates to share information and helpful tips. When she’s not with Izzy, Amber serves as associate attorney within the Department of Homeland Security. Amber is also the Executive Director of a 501c3 organization called We the Dogs DC, which was formed by five women in the DC area who met through their dogs’ Instagram accounts. They discovered that they all shared a passion for rescue animals, and formed We the Dogs DC so that they could work with the community to raise money for local animal rescue organizations. In addition to its fundraising efforts, We the Dogs DC maintains a community Instagram account (@wethedogsdc). Every day, a new a new person and their dog is selected to take over the account and share photos of their day in the DC area.