Unless you live under a rock, you have already probably heard of Pokemon Go – the virtual reality game that consists of real-time players seeking fictional characters of the famed Pokemon series and ‘capturing’ them through their smartphones. The infamous game has gained popularity throughout the world; and, as with all good things, it has similarly gained negative attention due to the even further attachment teenagers and young adults have formed with their smartphones. The game is still undoubtedly a hit amongst many, a fact substantiated by its’ 100 million downloads on the first month it initially launched.
Despite gathering some negative attention and backlash, some people have thought of ways to use the Pokemon Go craze to their advantage, such as the innovative Phil Peckinpaugh from Muncie, Indiana. Peckinpaugh, who is the director of the Muncie Animal Shelter, noticed the significant amounts of people walking outdoors due to the virtual reality game, and thought he could make their walks (and games) that much more productive by letting them walk shelter dogs.
Phil Peckinpaugh catching a Squirtle on a break from dog walking.
“It would be great if every one of those individuals had one of our dogs with them,” Peckinpaugh told The Huffington Post. Peckinpaugh teamed up with an intern at the mayor’s office and created an advertisement that was later published in the shelter’s Facebook page. The ad got a lot of attention, and managed to get 250 volunteers into the door after a few days since the ad was initially posted.
In order to protect both the volunteers and the dogs, the shelter emphasizes on the importance of keeping an eye out and being conscious of traffic and other potential threats to the wellbeing of both the animals and the walkers. Peckinpaugh’s idea of using Pokemon Go to promote dog walking in the Muncie area certainly worked out for him, and he encourages other animal shelters to do so as well, as he says he hopes “it catches on like fire”.
Even if you don’t live nearby and are an avid Pokemon Go player, you could still try to go to your local animal shelter and volunteer yourself to walk one of the dogs while you ‘catch ’em all’. But remember, always put your and the pet’s life and wellbeing as a priority and keep an eye out for any potential threats!