A brilliant idea in Western New York is now a viral sensation because it combines two of the best things in life — pets and pizza!
It all started at the Niagara SPCA, a no-kill shelter in Niagara Falls, New York. They teamed up with a popular location of the beloved local pizza chain Just Pizza to bring attention to all the adorable and needy animals in the area that deserve a forever home.
How’d they do it?
It was a simple but effective idea – they put flyers featuring the sweet animals right on their pizza boxes. That not only put dogs in need right in front of people, but it also drew attention to the shelter in general.
Just look at Hooch — can’t you picture him sitting right next to you while you enjoy your next pizza?
The idea was so popular that the shelter and business offered a further incentive — anyone who adopted one of the “pizza pups” would receive a $50 gift certificate to the Just Pizza location in Amherst, New York just a few miles away.
Fifty bucks buys a lot of pizza!
Of course, cat lovers felt a little left out of the whole scheme — after all, not everyone can handle a dog and there are plenty of cats in need of homes as well. So on March 4th of this year, the Niagara SPCA posted an update to their “Pizza Pups” program:
“Ask and you shall receive! Not only will you see adoptable dogs on the Just Pizza & Wing Co. Amherst, NY Location boxes, you will now find adoptable cats!”
In order to raise funds for the shelter, they also began to sell “Pizza Pups” merchandise. And who doesn’t want a t-shirt with a dog eating pizza on it?!
The whole idea for the campaign came about when the owner of the Amherst Just Pizza & Wing Co. franchise, Mary Alloy, started volunteering at Niagara SPCA. When the shelter’s event coordinator Kimberly LaRussa mentioned the idea, Alloy jumped at the chance to help.
“Kimberly texted me one night and was like, ‘Hey, what would you think about putting pictures of the dogs on pizza boxes?’ and I just couldn’t wait,” Alloy said. “We are all animal lovers here, so I got permission from the franchise to do it and immediately got to work.”
The Niagara SPCA honored her generosity in a post describing her role in the successful plan:
“Mary continues to give credit to Niagara SPCA for the idea, but she doesn’t realize that she’s the one who said yes right away to helping our animals, just like she always does. Mary is an incredible asset to the shelter and the WNY community. Not only does she assist us, she gives back to many other nonprofits in the area because she believes she was put on this earth to help. She is a wonderful soul and there should be more people in the world like her. Thank you, Mary”
The very first dog was adopted just one day after the campaign launched and many more have gone to their loving fur-ever homes since then.
Larry was adopted over the very first weekend.
No one knows what kind of pup (or feline!) they’re going to be introduced to when ordering their pizza, but it’s not about making an exact match. Rather, it’s about drawing attention to all of the animals up for adoption at the SPCA and hoping that people will be motivated to look online or visit and find the pet that’s right for them.
When the Niagara SPCA posted an update after the first week, showing photos of newly adopted dogs and their families, they had to leave two out because they were adopted so fast that the flyers hadn’t even been printed yet!
But they did snap a photo of this lucky pup.
News of the idea has spread far and wide over the last month, from the Buffalo-Niagara region’s local news stations all the way to national news outlets such as CNN.
In fact, LaRussa told CNN that people were ordering pizzas just because of the flyers in late February when it all began, and more businesses have stepped in with offers of help.
“Many people want to order a pizza just to get the shelter dog photo, other pizzerias have offered to put flyers on their pizza boxes, and so many people are tagging their friends and family.”
Alloy said that while her location normally goes through about 600 to 800 boxes every week, it had already gone through 500 boxes between the Friday and Sunday after the campaign began!
This great campaign could be coming to a town near you thanks to the creativity and generosity of two women in Western New York.
Be sure to scroll down below to see an interview about the adorable and delicious endeavor.
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