Words by Tess Becker
Dogs are known as man’s best friend, but they aren’t always treated that way. According to the ASPCA, over 3 million dogs enter the shelter system each year. That doesn’t account for dogs that are mistreated in the home, families that struggle to afford their pets, and homeless dogs.
There are people out there that want to help these dogs find some sense of comfort. One place is Glad Dogs Nation.
Glad Dogs Nation is an upcycling dog toy brand that runs a non-profit in the US to help dogs in need and provide volunteer opportunities. It was founded by Marianne Ahern, who, along with her husband fostered dogs regularly – about 150 in total.
Through the fostering system, she became aware of the things dogs were going through and how much need was out there... so she got to work on making a potential solution.
“I just was mad at the world and finally decided I had to come up with some kind of positive way to address this,” Marianne tells Smiley News. “I really saw the problem as lack of spaying and neutering, a lack of awareness, a lack of desire, and so I wanted to do something that could raise money to get that message out there.”
One thing they did was find discount toys through yard sales – since they couldn’t afford brand-new toys for every foster dog at their house – and that’s where the baseline idea for Glad Dogs Nation was born.
“I started thinking maybe there's a way I could make those secondhand toys safe, because I knew that I had to watch my dogs carefully when I gave them to them," she says.
Eventually, she started selling the upcycled dog toys to other people to fund her wider goals. “I sell them to people who love their pets and I can use all of the proceeds to go to spaying and neutering so I can tackle this problem – I can approach it from a position of love and make a difference,” she says.
Marianne quickly pivoted to more tangible goals, so they started offering volunteer opportunities, education, and more.
"We are still focused on spaying and neutering," she says. "We help people or organizations that are running, spay and neuter programs and we'll incentivize them so they get more participation.
"But we also provide free food to shelters and rescues, we provide free toys that we upcycle to shelters and rescues, and we provide dog houses to dogs that are forced to live outside.”
Over the years, Glad Dog Nation has donated thousands of toys to pups in need.
“Last year we helped 120 different organizations, either through toys or supplies or funds. This year already we've shipped boxes of donated toys to 34 organizations,” Marianne says.
If you want to help support Glad Dogs Nation more check out their stitch kits which send out the tools for others to make dog toys.