With food trucks across the Triangle specializing in niche goodies like crepes, Chinese dumplings and duck fat tater tots, a truck devoted to gourmet treats for dogs doesnt sound far-fetched at all.
The new doggy food truck, the Waggin Wagon, is operated by Paws4Ever, a nonprofit animal sanctuary based in Mebane. The truck got a soft launch last week at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, and if wagging tails count as reviews, it was a five-star showing.
The wagon was the brainchild of advertising agency McKinney, a nationally recognized Durham firm recently acquired by South Korea-based marketing and communications company Cheil Worldwide. McKinney provided pro bono services to Paws4Ever after the animal group won an in-house contest called Pimp My Cause. The contest challenged McKinney employees to pitch their favorite charities in hopes of winning free work from the company. The winner was determined by employee voting.
Andy Ives, an interactive producer for McKinney, pitched for Paws4Ever. He started volunteering for the rescue group while he was in college at UNC-Chapel Hill, and he has remained a strong advocate for the work the group does.
Its the only no-kill shelter in Orange County, Ives said of the remote sanctuary, which pulls animals from shelters in Orange, Chatham and Caswell counties. Once youve been there, you understand why people would drive so far to see it. Its a different and exciting place.
Ives team did a complete rebranding for Paws4Ever: an updated paw logo with an infinity symbol in the paw pad, newly designed brochures and a sleek new website.
And of course, the Waggin Wagon.
Paws4Ever executive director Joanne Andruscavage says the truck will be a great tool in getting out the groups message.
Were excited about offering the dog treats, she said. But were interested in building awareness. Its a great way to tell the public about our mission and the importance of spay-neuter, dog training, and adopting pets as opposed to buying them.
Paws4Ever, known as the Animal Protection Society of Chapel Hill from the 1960s until 2004, is on 50 acres in Orange County that previously hosted a wild animal preserve. The land was donated to the group in 2004.
In addition to dog kennels and cageless cat rooms, the sanctuary also features play yards, training rooms and fields, a full agility course and a grassy, oak-tree-spotted 4-acre dog park.
Until late last year, there was a full-service veterinary clinic onsite, but it became cost-prohibitive to keep going. The group is looking for a vet to rent the clinic.
Training is a big tenet for us, Andruscavage said. We emphasize training and socialization because we want to do everything we can to make the animals more adoptable.
Dogs adopted from Paws4Ever have completed some level of training already and receive additional free training with their new owners. They also offer extensive training classes for privately owned dogs and host events for dog groups.
Andruscavage says Paws4Ever plans to take the Waggin Wagon all over the Triangle, hitting farmers markets, food truck rodeos and parades pretty much any gathering where man might bring along his best friend.
The treats sold on the truck come from Gourmutts Bakery in Raleigh a variety of baked treats, as well as bacon cheeseburger and peanut butter flavored doggy ice creams.
Wherever you see the Waggin Wagon, youll also see some of Paws4Evers temporary residents. The wagon, an ice cream truck in its previous life, is retrofitted for cages so that adoptable animals can be taken to events.
Andruscavage, a former teacher and school administrator who started with Paws4Ever as a volunteer three years ago, says groups like Paws4Ever thrive with help from companies like McKinney and from other sponsors.
We want to end homelessness for pets, she said. It takes everyone working together to bring that about.
This has revitalized everyone here.