By Kyle Zawieja
On March 20, the San Antonio Rampage will host their ninth annual Pucks & Paws game when the Grand Rapids Griffins visit the Alamo City. Over the past nine years, the Rampage have made a concerted effort in the fight to turn San Antonio into a no-kill city.
Pucks & Paws has become one of the Rampage’s most popular and impactful theme nights, as fans can bring their dogs to the game or look to adopt a pet from various shelters and organizations that will be at the AT&T Center. Additionally, a portion of each dog ticket sold will benefit San Antonio Pets Alive!, a local shelter that played a huge role in making San Antonio a no-kill city.
The journey to becoming a no-kill city wasn’t easy. Prior to 2006, San Antonio had the third-highest euthanasia rate of pets per capita in the country, with 50,000 animals euthanized annually. Looking at this frightening statistic, the city decided a change was desperately needed.
Over the last 10 years, San Antonio has relentlessly fought to reach no-kill status, a goal that most balked at when it was first proposed. “No-kill” is defined as the live release of all healthy, treatable, and adoptable dogs and cats, and the national no-kill standard requires more than 90% of healthy, treatable animals be released alive and well.
After a tireless effort, the goal was reached in December 2015, and if the city can maintain that status for 12 months, San Antonio will become the largest no-kill city in America.
“I think that’s pretty amazing,” said Rampage defenseman Mat Clark of the city’s accomplishment. “It’s really sad what some of these dogs have gone through in their lives.”
Clark comes from a family that has adopted many animals throughout his life, so the cause that Pucks & Paws supports hits close to home for the Wheat Ridge, Colorado, native.
“There are a lot of animals out there who just need a good home, to have a good life,” he said. “I think it’s really important that people are aware of the problem and try to help out if they can.”
Perhaps one of the biggest fans of the Pucks & Paws game is Rampage defenseman Nate Guenin. The Pennsylvania-native and his girlfriend, Megan, have two adopted pit bulls that fill their lives with joy.
Waylon, their most recent adoption, was stuck in a kill shelter in Georgia when a rescue shelter in Ohio decided to take him in. Guenin found himself walking through the local shelter one day, where he ultimately found and saved Waylon. The 10th-year pro knew it would be an adjustment for the both of them, but he knew it would be worth it.
“A lot of people say, ‘those dogs know that you saved them,’ and I truly believe it,” said Guenin. “He’s thankful every day. He’ll do stuff that will make you mad from time to time, but it’s just about how loving he is.”
This year, the Rampage have teamed up with Raising Cane’s, a company that has made pet welfare one of their five focus areas in their community efforts, making them a perfect partner.
“A big part of Raising Cane’s mission focuses on supporting our local communities. Providing animals with loving homes through organizations like San Antonio’s Pets Alive! is one of our most important goals,” said Chantel Romero, Marketing Advisor for Cane’s in Central and South Texas. “We are hopeful by working with the Rampage that we can help make San Antonio the largest no-kill city.”
Raising Cane’s value in pet welfare dates back to their founding in 1996, when CEO Todd Graves named the franchise after his yellow lab Cane. The company has worked to be involved in philanthropic efforts throughout the community, including building a dog park.
The Rampage will give the first 1,000 dogs in attendance a co-branded Rampage and Raising Cane’s collapsible water bowl, and all dog owners who bring their pet to the game will also receive a complimentary box combo card from Raising Cane’s.
A dog agility course will be set up where dogs can test their skills, and various shelters and organizations will have pets available for adoption throughout the concourse. Additionally, the Rampage have worked closely with San Antonio Pets Alive! throughout the week to try and get five furry friends adopted before the puck drops on Sunday.
“I think it’s awesome. It’s one thing to buy a dog, but I feel like when you adopt a dog it is a different type of love,” said defenseman Cody Corbett. “You’re doing it out of the depths of your heart.”
With the support of their fury little friends, the Rampage hope to deliver an exciting game and a safe home to their newest four-legged fans.