Hush Puppies partners with Best Friends

As part of its golden anniversary celebration, the Hush Puppies shoe company is conducting a year-long fundraising campaign to help build a Best Friends "puppy preschool," where homeless pups will be trained and socialized to make it easier for them to join their forever families.

Puppy preschool

The building will be part of a puppy park planned for the Best Friends Sanctuary in Southern Utah. The park would also include a separate admissions building for which we are seeking donor support.

Our current puppy area is small, which limits how many dogs we can accept, and is partially outdoor space, where the weather can affect the time spent socializing and training.

"Dogs hold a very special place in the hearts of people," says Paul Berry, Best Friends chief executive officer. "The new sanctuary building will be a safe haven for puppies who are injured, abused, rescued from puppy mills, or no longer wanted – with the goal of being placed in happy homes."

Hush Puppies shoe company partnership with Best Friends

Hush Puppies, which was founded in 1958 with the introduction of the first "casual" shoes, told Best Friends earlier this year that we were one of the finalists in its search for a worthy beneficiary. The company made its decision in August.

"We chose Best Friends as our partner because of their excellent reputation and success, plus their ability to positively impact the lives of abused and homeless animals on a global basis," says Mark Neal, president of the global Hush Puppies company. "The work of Best Friends Animal Society is a testament to their commitment toward animals, and we are happy to help them achieve their dream of a new building for dogs."

FOX Business News will feature a 10-minute segment about the partnership on Dec. 7, two days after the campaign’s introduction at an industry event in New York.

Three fundraising programs

There will be three fundraising programs, including Pennies for Puppies, which consists of specially designed point-of-sale canisters with educational signage that retailers across the U.S. will display to help raise money.

"Our bassett hound logo is one of the world’s most recognized trademarks and represents a sense of happiness and comfort to everyone who wears our products," Neal says. "It is only natural that Hush Puppies and our network of retailers and licensees endorses Pennies for Puppies to see the work of Best Friends grow and continue to wipe out homelessness for pets and animal abuse."

The campaign also includes sales of a plush-toy version of the iconic Hush Puppies basset hound, with portions of proceeds benefiting Best Friends. Russ Berrie and Company, which is producing the plush Hushies, is working with the International Star Registry to give people who buy the toys an opportunity to register a star in their pet’s name. The stars will comprise a constellation named for Best Friends and Hush Puppies. Each person will get a certificate with the name of the star and its coordinates.

Finally, Hush Puppies will sponsor a celebrity component at Best Friends’ 2008 Lint Roller Party, a fundraiser held each year in Los Angeles.

Cost of puppy building at the Sanctuary

Construction of the puppy preschool is expected to cost more than half a million dollars, according to current projections. Hush Puppies and Best Friends are hoping the fundraising campaign can make a significant dent in that cost.

"A major reason Best Friends is able to help literally thousands of animals a year is due in large part to the generosity of companies like Hush Puppies that have a fundamental belief in the work we do," says Vicki Kilmer-Rinker, Best Friends cause marketing manager.

Hush Puppies’ birthday will be celebrated in more than 140 countries with in-store events, charity promotions (for people and animals) and special collections to thank customers and retailers for their half-century of support. A new Hush Puppies 50th celebration logo for a line of vintage-inspired accessories has also been created.

Please consider a donation to help animals in need.

Photos provided by Hush Puppies