Two dozen local dog owners brought their canines to Union Square on Tuesday, Oct. 2 as part of a “Doggupy” (rhymes with “occupy”) event put on by a pet food company that makes a locally sourced product. With picket signs and leashed dogs in hand, the “protesters” rallied among a group of dog tents, pitched in the style of Occupy Wall Street, and chanted “Our dogs want real whole food!” When it began to rain, they donned ponchos and continued marching around the tents.
Sandra Boyle, a local resident who attended with her husband and their two dogs, has been feeding her pets Merrick foods for almost 12 years. “I’m a big proponent about feeding healthy dog food to dogs. It’s a no brainer,” she said.
Diane Gauld, director of marketing and special events for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, recently began feeding Merrick products to her two cats because she wanted them to be healthy. “Sometimes animals like more of the junk food, like humans,” she said. “So it’s McDonald’s or a salad, and you have to say, ‘Salad.’” The event was held in collaboration with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, and Merrick donated $100,000 worth of dog food — which they equated to 250,000 bowls, or meals — to local shelters.
“Since we’re a collaboration of about 150 rescue groups and shelters, it seemed like a logical marriage,” said Steve Gruber, director of communications for the Mayor’s Alliance. Gauld agreed, adding, “The shelters are very grateful because shelter animals want nutrition as well as animals who have their own homes.”
Local resident Gail Rosenzweig was there with her own rescue dog, a black Chihuahua that works as a therapy pet for nursing homes and children. Rosenzweig has been using Merrick dog food for a week and noted that her dog liked it. “I don’t like all the dog food that’s on the market now,” she said, cradling her Chihuahua in her arm. “I think this is a wonderful product. She was beginning to get tired of her other brand.”
Despite the rain, the attendees’ spirits remained high, partly with the help of Jonathan Randall, a local actor and comedian who enthusiastically led the protest. “We will bring a much bigger rainstorm if we don’t get whole foods!” he improvised. The mascot of the “revolution,” a mixed-breed dog named Scout, was also on hand for photo ops. With the substantial number of pet food recalls over the past few years — a few of which were from Merrick — it’s wise for pet owners to be as cautious about their pets’ diets as their own.