Downeast Dog News
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Sea Dogs Go to Bat for Rescues

By Susan Spisak | Jul 05, 2018
Mike Brenly and a 2017 Dog of the Day

 

The Portland Sea Dogs, the AA minor league baseball team affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, have a heartwarming promotion called “Dog of the Day” to facilitate the adoptions of Maine’s rescues, shelters, and humane societies’ dogs. But they don’t stop there--this community conscience and family-friendly organization offers “Bark in the Park” games at Hadlock Field to benefit non-profits as well. Yep, on two days each season you can take your fur kid out to their ballpark for nine innings of peanuts, popcorn, and Cracker Jack.

Dog of the Day

Presented by Maine Veterinary Medical Center (MVMC) in Scarborough, the Dog of the Day promotion takes place at Sunday home games, said John Muzzy, Account Manager-Sales, for the Sea Dogs. He added that they’ve always had a great relationship with MVMC and wanted to do something fun with them to promote dog adoptions.

Every Sunday, one shelter or rescue is invited to bring an adoptable dog to the ballpark to meet and greet the fans in the hopes that a family or individual will find him irresistible and want to bring him into their home. The dog is introduced to the crowd in a pre-game ceremony, his personality and habits are detailed, his picture is blasted across their big screen, and fans are invited to meet him on the concourse at a table shared by reps from the shelter and MVMC.

Muzzy said it’s a great opportunity for those either looking for their first dog or another canine to add to their pack. They have the opportunity of meeting him in a social setting and getting up close and personal. It’s nice for those dogs that don’t “show” well in a shelter setting and may get overlooked by adopters because of that factor. Fans interested in adopting the dog will have to go through the shelter’s applicable protocols, such as providing vet and personal references and introducing the prospective pet to any resident animals to ensure the adoption would be a good fit.

Jeana Roth, Director of Community Engagement for Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (ARLGP), said they’ve had success with the event, including the adoption of a 3-legged dog named Chibi. “We met a local woman at the game who fell in love with Chibi instantly and waited at our door the next morning to adopt her first thing.” Thanks to being highlighted at the ballpark, the three-legged dog found her forever home. Roth added that the Sea Dogs are particularly supportive of shelters in the state, and the fans thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to meet a dog at the game.

Muzzy said many non-profits come back year after year. “The shelters really love it.” But he added it’s valuable beyond presenting a single dog of the day throughout their season: “It’s good for people to learn about the shelters…where they are, what kind of animals they have, and so on.”

Jocelyn Potthoff of MVMC agreed that the Dog of the Day is a great opportunity for rescues. She wears many hats for this veterinary referral and 24/7 emergency practice in Scarborough, including being responsible for their Purchasing, Website, Marketing, and Facilities departments, but she’s also excited about her Dog of the Day role, and you’ll often find her at Hadlock Field on Sundays. “We’ve really enjoyed running the program.” She said it wasn’t their brainchild, but when the Sea Dogs approached them about reviving it years back, “We really jumped on board.” MVMC liked the idea of strengthening their community bond and felt this was not only a great way to nurture it but to help rescues--obviously a fit for this practice chock full of dedicated animal advocates. She also indicated that the Sea Dog’s Muzzy truly likes the promotion. “John says, ‘This is our favorite program.’” So it’s a win-win for all involved, especially for the shelters and their dogs.

Amber Creswell, a Licensed Veterinary Technician at MVMC and President of Animal Rescue of Kennebec (ARK), attested to the benefit of having a presence in the park as a rescue. They had a very shy 13-week-old Boxer-mix named Wesley and utilized Dog of the Day on May 13 of this year to socialize him. “He enjoyed going out on the baseball field and meeting many new people.” While they had many inquiries about the once malnourished dog at the game, he was ultimately adopted by a family who had seen him on WCSH 6’s “Fetch ME a Home” segment the weekend before his ballpark outing. (Creswell has received terrific updates and photos from his new family.)

That said, Dog of the Day was very worthwhile for ARK. “The event helped us get many contacts for potential fosters for when we bring our next group of dogs up from South Carolina.” As anyone in the world of rescue knows, fosters are key and hard to come by.

Bark in the Park

The Bark in the Park promo is held twice throughout the season to benefit dog-related non-profits. Dogs and their owners participate in a pre-game parade around the field and Slugger, the team’s affable mascot, greets the two- and four-legged walkers near the dugout. Dennis Meehan, Assistant General Manager/ Sales for the Sea Dogs said they’ve been offering the Bark for a number of years with great success.

He explained that the owner and his dog must each have a ticket, and the price per dog is $6. (The exception was this past June’s Bark sponsored by Planet Dog Foundation. The $10 ticket proceeds benefited their Foundation and continued commitment to supporting service dog organizations.) “We have a special entrance for dogs, and the Corporate Corner and Left-Field grandstand are our dog-friendly section.” (Dogs are not allowed into other parts of the park.)

The next scheduled Bark in the Park is slated for August 17 when they play the Altoona Curve. Meehan said it’s sponsored by IDEXX Laboratories, and he’s hoping to again partner with Allagash Brewing for this Bark, “They usually bring us a rare beer.” And a portion of their beer sales goes to the ARLGP. Sounds like an extra special night--and it’s Elvis Night too. (Check Sea Dog’s website for game and beer ticket sales info--an Allagash rep kindly returned my call and said they’re ironing out details for this Bark.)

Slugger the Sea Dog

Ok, the team’s mascot, Slugger the Sea Dog, is really supposed to be a harbor seal, but his face has such a canine resemblance that it’s hard not to be confused, especially because the team name refers to dogs. Muzzy agreed, “It’s funny, a lot of people think he’s a dog.”

Regardless if one thinks he’s a seal or a dog, his entertaining stunts and goofiness delight the fans. “He’s very popular,” added Muzzy. And it’s his off-field good works, what the mythical character refers to as his “hobbies,” that makes Slugger a really good guy. He loves to visit kids in hospitals to cheer them and bring a smile to their faces. That should make him a top dog in everyone’s book.

For more info on the family-friendly Portland Sea Dogs, including Dog of the Day and Bark in the Park info, visit www.milb.com/promotions/index.jsp?sid=t546.