The brainchild of New York Times sports photographer Suzy Allman, CharlieDogs came about as a way to fund Allman's habitual and financially draining contributions to every homeless pet sob-story she came across on the internet. She partnered with New Jersey toy designer Kathy Voerg to create 17" stuffed toys that use actual rescued pets as inspiration. The toys are sold through an Ecommerce store, www.charliedogandfriends.com, in select retail outlets, and at animal shelters and adoption events.
CharlieDogs has tapped into a niche market within a vast network of passionate animal rescuers who know that plush toy pit bulls and mutts are difficult to find. The CharlieDog Facebook page is averaging 100 new "likes" a day, mostly from the rescue community which uses Facebook extensively to network adoptable dogs and cats.
The first release of stuffed toys includes a pit bull terrier named Murphy whose real-life counterpart works as a therapy dog in a Virginia hospital. Future releases include a peach-scented dog named Po from Georgia Peaches Animal Rescue, a group that flies adopted dogs from a shelter in Georgia to their new homes in Seattle.
The toy pets come with hang tags showing the real-life inspiration, a unique serial number, and a toy collar embroidered with the word, "Adopt". They retail for $35.00.