Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you know Pokemon Go has taken over. Anywhere you look, there are crowds of players of all ages with their eyes on their phone, hoping to “catch them all.” I am a 90’s kid so I understand the hype of Pokemon; I just haven’t jumped on the bandwagon this time around. However, there’s one thing that stands out to me: Pokemon Go is helping animals.
Walk a Rescue Dog
The idea of Pokemon Go is straightforward – it’s a location-based mobile app where you travel to catch Pokemon around the town. This obviously leads to a lot of walking from landmark to landmark. An animal shelter in Muncie, Indiana used this to their advantage and had a bright idea: put a leash in your hand while on your mission to catch Pokemon.
Phil Peckinpaugh, the shelter director, created a “Pokemon Dogs” volunteer program following the rise of Pokemon Go. “…The other day, while on my way to work, I noticed droves of young people walking around playing this game. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if all those people were walking with our dogs?'”
It took off from there. In fact, Phil even noted they had to go buy more leashes because of the overwhelming response, and more than 150 people have shown up hoping to volunteer. While there may not be a designated “Pokemon Dogs” volunteer program at your local shelter, see if you can put your Pokemon Go travels to good use. Get involved by checking with the volunteer coordinator about their dog-walking program. Of course, verify the policy to ensure you are able to have your phone on this walk, and make sure your priority is walking the dog and not walking to make sure you catch the Pidgey down the road.
Save an Abandoned Animal
Sometimes, the benefits of Pokemon Go in animal rescue aren’t quite as planned out. As the game requires players to walk a little further than they possibly would on a normal day, there’s a chance for them to stumble upon something unexpected. For example, Pokemon Go Players Rescue Dozens Of Abandoned Animals. Two players were recently walking around a park in South Houston, playing as normal, when they came across an abandoned cage of hamsters and newborn mice.
While this is a tragic situation where cruel humans left pets with little chance for survival, it goes to show the benefits of Pokemon Go. One of the players even stated, “I never would have walked that far from my house if I didn’t want to take over that [Pokemon] gym,” she said. “But I’m glad I did.”
Though I truly hope you aren’t caught in a situation like this (just because I naively hope someone wouldn’t abandon animals), it teaches a great lesson – keep an eye on your surroundings while playing. You never know what – or who – you might find, and you could even save an animal’s life!
It has only been a few weeks since Pokemon Go launched, so I look forward to hearing more happy stories where animals are saved because of the game. If this keeps up, I may need to start playing the game myself, just as an excuse to walk some shelter dogs of course!
Want to find your closest shelter or rescue? Check out Pet Finder’s search engine