Samantha McAfee is the founder of dog-focused charity Fur the Brand, as well as the POOCHELLA festival that is taking place at White River State Park on Saturday, Aug. 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Proceeds from the festival will benefit Fur The Brand and its program to help fund canine cancer treatments for families who are unable to afford the cost.
We spoke with Samantha to learn more about why she started her foundation and what to expect at the upcoming festival.
CAN YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN ABOUT FUR THE BRAND’S MISSION? WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO START THE NON-PROFIT?
Fur The Brand is a women-owned and led foundation on a mission to bring awareness to canine cancer while providing financial assistance to pets who face a cancer diagnosis requiring extensive veterinary care in which their owners are unable to afford.
We are on a mission to change the narrative on canine cancer and believe that no owner should have to make the difficult decision to put a pet down or neglect medical needs because of the costs involved.
After my dog Valerie had gone through her first round of canine cancer, I saw how much it cost and what all the dog has to go through. It sat heavy with me. I have always in some way worked with animals since grade school, so I knew my career would be involved with animals in some way. On my honeymoon I took to some deep beach thinking; I wanted to come up with a way to help the dog and the pet parent. I thought back to my childhood and all that my parents had to juggle, and how if an extra bill like canine cancer would have popped up, it would be a major burden. Then I thought about all the walks of life of pet owners: the college student living on loans, the single dog parent living check to check, families with multiple kids. So, it just came naturally that if I could help the pet parent with the stress of finances I would also be helping the dog get the care they need.
YOU FOUNDED A FESTIVAL CALLED “POOCHELLA” THAT IS SCHEDULED FOR AUGUST 27TH … WHAT SORTS OF FUN THINGS CAN WE EXPECT THERE?
POOCHELLA is for all ages and dogs! This is Fur The Brand’s largest event yet taking place at White River State Park on Saturday, Aug. 27 featuring live entertainment, interactive art, bounce houses, music, photo ops, local food and vendors, cocktails, and more!
Come celebrate our 2nd birthday at POOCHELLA to help raise awareness and enable us to continue the fight against canine cancer! Tickets are on sale at FurTheBrand.com.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR WORK WITH FUR THE BRAND SO FAR, AND WHY?
It’s all so rewarding, but knowing first-hand how much dogs are part of the family, the number one thing is helping families stay with their best friend a bit longer. Also being a three-woman-run foundation, watching my girls grow this foundation with me has been so fun and rewarding. They both left their careers to take a chance on my dream and vision and have worked their butts off! I am so proud of them. And lastly, I have to say, seeing the community around Indy support our cause; it’s just all touching if you sit back and look at it all.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WHO ARE LOOKING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF ANIMALS?
Just take the chance. If you have an idea of a way to make the world a better place, YOU GO GIRL! Research and ask questions. No question is dumb. It is so important to know everything you can about the cause that you are helping but you don’t have to know everything to start. I have learned so much since starting FTB, lots of canine cancer knowledge and lots of trial and error for the foundation. You can learn as you go but never stop learning. It’s okay if it doesn’t work out at first, you might have to change the way you are doing things and THAT’S OKAY!! Also, hit me up, I will probably want to help if you are saving animals!
DO YOU HAVE ANY FUTURE PLANS FOR MORE EVENTS OR WAYS TO BRING AWARENESS TO CANINE CANCER?
After POOCHELLA, we will be looking forward to a couple fundraising events to round out the year. In October we will be having our 3rd annual Pet Costume Contest; it is online fundraising. We will be posting how to enter at the beginning of October. Last will be our Wreath Making Event on Dec. 7 at Vision Lofts; tickets will go on sale closer to the event date. It is a lovely evening of being creative while sipping on winter cocktails, and maybe an appearance from Santa!
Stephanie Groves is the Executive Editor of Indy Maven and she is a shameless dog lover.