Mercurys "Dog Days of Summer" Event an Annual Success

By Kurt Pfannenstiel, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: Aug. 13, 2009

Thursday marked the third annual Dog Days of Summer event that took place in the pavilion of U.S. Airways Center. In addition to the Mercury game, many different animal rescue organizations from around the Phoenix area turned the lobby floor into a convention of sorts to promote their cause.

“We have some non-profit and rescue organizations that set up their tables so that our fans can learn about them and possibly adopt rescued dogs if they want or donate to their cause,” said Mercury Chief Operating Officer Jay Parry. “Really, it is the place where they can build awareness about their organizations.”

One of the organizations that have made the biggest impact on animal rescue throughout Arizona is PACC911. Created by Bari Mears in 1999, PACC911 is a coalition of over 90 rescue groups in the state. From 2004-09-, PACC911 “Adopt-athons” helped place well over 4,000 animals into new homes.

The Mercury organization has played a key role in helping PACC911 over the past three years and members of the organization plan to attend Dog Days of Summer for as long as the event continues.

“When they started Dog Days of Summer, they automatically embraced the rescue community,” said a PACC911 representative. “The visibility that we get from the fans is so great because the population of the Mercury fans love the dogs and cats.”

One of the tables even had a cage-free pet resort and spa. Villa La Paws has also attended Dog Days of Summer for the past three years and has been voicing their passion for pets in need.

“This is a great opportunity for the general public to understand what rescues are,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Murray. “There are so many needy animals out there that need good homes.”

While the tables were removed before game time, the message made its way into the game through player videos, the halftime show and even the Mercury Hip-Hop Squad.

The Mercury players have even voiced their love for animals and dogs specifically. One of the questions during the game asked whether the players were dog or cat people and all 11 of the players answered, "dogs."

“I’m a dog lover and I used to take in puppies and dogs all of the time when I was younger,” Le’coe Willingham, owner of two dogs, said. “It’s good to bring awareness to dogs that need homes and other animals, as well.”

Jay Parry is a self proclaimed dog lover, as well, and hinted at the idea of having a dog day for one game at the arena.

“Someday we want to make it so fans can bring their dogs to one game,” Parry said. “It would be a little hectic, but wouldn’t it be fun?”

This special event has even been endorsed by members of the coaching staff. Bridget Pettis, the owner of two Cocker Spaniels, appreciates the effort that these rescue organizations are putting forth to help animals.

“There are so many dogs and cats that aren’t being properly cared for,” Pettis said. “People don’t understand how precious they are and what they can bring to a family and what they could bring to a home.”