Three years ago, our shelter dog Chops passed away. In the months that followed, we wanted to find a way to both immortalize the legend of Chops as well as give back to the shelter that brought him into our lives. This is Chops as a puppy and then as a senior pooch:
About a year ago I began researching the idea of creating a plush version of Chops that could be a cute and cuddly reminder of his awesomeness, while helping to raise awareness for the shelter we adopted him from.
Once we started talking to friends about creating a Chops plush, we quickly realized we couldn't stop with just him and immediately began working on the idea of four pets: two cats and two dogs.
Then I began talking to shelters and realized just how many there are nationwide that need help with awareness, funding, volunteers, and that many of them go well beyond cats and dogs. So the series doubled to eight, this time adding in a fox, a rat, a military dog, and a bunny.
The concept of Shelter Pets is simple: Create high quality, adorable plush animals based off of real pets that were adopted from non-profit rescues or shelters. Shelter Pets include dogs, cats, bunnies, pigs, horses, ferrets, birds, you name it - if they are an adopted pet from a non-profit, they can be a Shelter Pet!
Shelter Pets series one is now ready to be manufactured after a year of planning, designs, samples, feedback from very patient friends, and many revisions to make sure each Shelter Pet looks as cute as their real-life counterpart. We worked with six different manufacturers to find the one that could make the cutest pets possible, and we are now ready to go.
My favorite part about Shelter Pets is that if series one is successful, all pet owners will be able to submit their adopted pets to be a part of series two in 2018. We will have at least one Shelter Pet in series two that is based on a pet from a Kickstarter backer, and with stretch goals could have up to four spots reserved for the pets of Kickstarter supporters. Our hope is to make Shelter Pets an ongoing project that can raise awareness and funds for shelters all over the country.
We are so excited that our project has been fully funded on Kickstarter! Anyone who is interested in backing our project can now back it knowing these pets are a reality, and that you will have a priority position when we accept submissions for series two of Shelter Pets!
Chops is the inspiration for Shelter Pets and was adopted from the Animal Rescue Foundation (A.R.F.) in Wheaton, IL. Chops was a big fan of playing at the dog park, pancakes, and the Chicago Cubs. You can read more about Chops' amazing life at shelterpetsonline.com/chops.
Chunk is the ratical dude adopted from Seattle Humane in Seattle, WA. He was originally named Templeton and he was a big fan of going for walks, the Seattle music scene, and the Chicago White Sox. Check out Chunk's story with photos at shelterpetsonline.com/chunk.
Nibbles is the adorable kitten from Toledo Area Humane Society in Ohio. He was originally named Gerald and was adopted with his brother Duma - now named Simon Cowell. Nibbles loves guarding the neighborhood from the window, sleeping in the sunshine, and hanging out with Simon. Check out Nibbles' story at shelterpetsonline.com/nibbles.
Ostara is an amazing story of all that shelters do for animals. She was taken in by the Georgia House Rabbit Society in Marietta, GA when she was injured after being abandoned in a dog park, and was given constant care, love, and medicine to try and help her recover. Please read about her story at shelterpetsonline.com/ostara.
Note: Ostara has poseable ears, which are super fun to play around with to give her a whole range of adorable bunny expressions!
Tigger is a beautiful cat that was adopted from Copper Country Humane Society in Houghton, MI. Tig was initially named Snow White, and now resides in Austin, TX with his best friend and roommate Rinoa. NOTE: Tig's will be updated with custom fur to best match his real life self! Check out Tigger's story at shelterpetsonline.com/tig.
Tod was surrendered by his original owner to the Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary once he realized that foxes do not make good house pets. Critter Camp has helped him live the good life with his buddy Zorro, lots of space to safely roam indoors, and the occasional donut! Read more about Tod at shelterpetsonline.com/tod.
Sgt Tosca is a military dog that served *three* tours of duty helping to protect our brave men and women in combat. She helped with explosives and actually lost most of her tail while on duty. Tosca is now with Mt. Hope Kennel in Virginia. Tosca comes with a detachable/removable military vest. Please read more about her incredible story at shelterpetsonline.com/tosca.
Zoe is the cute pup affectionately referred to as Dingo. She was rescued from AWOL Rescue in Virginia and now resides in Washington DC. She loves car rides, politics, and lobbying Congress to get more dog treats for all. Read more about Zoe at shelterpetsonline.com/zoe.
Shelter Pets shirts are available for mens, womens, and kids sizes and can be ordered on their own or as an add-on item to any other reward package. We can offer these shirts in almost every color and they are printed and shipped by Amazon - they are very soft and have held up well over a number of washes. :)
All Shelter Pets are 10 inches tall (Chunk the Rat is 10 inches long) and include a hangtag with their name and adoption information. In addition, everyone who backs Shelter Pets will be able to submit their adopted pet for Shelter Pets series two with at least one spot guaranteed for backers of our Kickstarter project.
Shipping is included in all rewards shipped within the United States. International shipping is available on most rewards, with rates posted on each reward. I am sorry it is so expensive - we are not charging extra for international shipping - I promise!
The hangtags that will be included with every Shelter Pet will be customized for this first production run -- if another run of any Shelter Pet is made in the future, it will not have the 'First Litter' text. The first picture is the outside of the hangtag and the second is what you will see on the inside.
We recently received a few MLB autographed World Series 20-DVD sets to use for Kickstarter rewards. These originally retailed for $2299(!) each - you can read the original MLB article here. These sets are signed by Yogi Berra, Bob Gibson, Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench, Whitey Ford, Brooks Robinson, Carlton Fisk, Mike Schmidt, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Gary Carter and Bruce Sutter. This "Hall of Fame Adopter" reward also comes with an early bird priced complete set of Shelter Pets series one. Here's one of the beautiful autographed Hall of Fame sets:
I have also added some very limited rewards with some hard to find items from my favorite band Pearl Jam. They are from my personal collection but I want to help make Shelter Pets a reality, and it seemed as good a reason as any to let some stuff go. Chops and I listened to Pearl Jam often during our 12.5 years together - I'm fairly certain his favorite lyrics were 'drop the leash' as he'd back out of his collar and run circles around me outside or in Petsmart. Anyway, the rewards are on the right, but pictures of the rewards can be seen at shelterpetsonline.com/pjks
One thing we learned early on in this adventure is that it takes a lot of money upfront to make custom plush animals. We have a minimum order requirement of 1,000 per design (more with custom fur), which means we are going to be producing a minimum of 9,000 Shelter Pets!
Every penny raised from Kickstarter will be used to manufacturer Shelter Pets and ship them quickly and safely to you. The largest costs will be producing the first run of Shelter Pets and shipping costs to fulfill the rewards, but other significant costs will be safety testing for each design, Kickstarter fees, and payment processing fees.
The current plan is to ship them to you ourselves in order to keep the rewards more affordable and to get them in your hands as quickly as possible. I have worked in online order fulfillment for 10 years and will be well prepared to fulfill all rewards quickly, and I will provide frequent updates along the way!
We are so excited to bring Shelter Pets to the world that we set the smallest goal we could in order to begin production. Because of that we want to set some fun stretch goals in the hopeful event that everyone loves Shelter Pets as much as we do!
$15,000 - Shelter Pets are born! ***ACHIEVED***
As soon as we reach $15,000, all eight Shelter Pets will begin production so that we can delivery them to your door in November.
$25,000 - Two Kickstarter Shelter Pets in Series Two
Once we reach $20,000, we will guarantee that two spots in series two of Shelter Pets will come from Kickstarter backers.
$30,000 - Kawaii Shelter Pets Sticker Sheet
Once we reach $30,000, we will release a special Kawaii inspired sticker sheet featuring all 8 Shelter Pets. This will be available as an add-on to any reward.
$35,000 - ??? (We have many more stretch goals planned. Stay tuned!)
Since we've been working on Shelter Pets for a year now, we are ready to go into production as soon as the Kickstarter campaign is funded. Our current timeline is:
SEPTEMBER: Kickstarter campaign is launched and we will begin coordinating plans for any stretch goal items that are unlocked.
OCTOBER: As soon as the campaign ends, we will send surveys to all backers asking for any information needed (shirt size/color, which 4 pack of Shelter Pets you would like, etc). The Shelter Pets plush animals will be in production, but we will begin shipping shirts, stickers quickly. We will also ship any standalone stretch goal items that can be delivered to us quickly.
NOVEMBER: We expect the Shelter Pets plush animals to arrive in mid to late November. As soon as they get here, we will begin shipping them to you so that they arrive before the holidays.
DECEMBER: Currently the plan will be to open up submissions for Shelter Pets series two in December once we have all rewards shipped out - earlier if we are fortunate enough to run ahead of schedule. We will provide details on the submissions process as we move closer.
Risks and challenges
We have spent the last year planning each Shelter Pet so that we will be ready to move to production the moment our Kickstarter campaign is funded. We have worked with six different suppliers to find the right one for the project, made numerous revisions, and have begun planning the fulfillment logistics to get the Shelter Pets to you as quickly as humanly possible.
I have over 10 years of experience in ecommerce fulfillment, so I am confident that I can get the rewards out quickly and correctly. I will make continual updates to the project so that the timeline is transparent and realistic.
As with any product that is sourced overseas, there will always be risks with the timeline. While we currently believe we will be shipping the Shelter Pets out in mid to late November, there are a few key areas where delays could occur:
1. We have confidence in our supplier and have discussed timing often with them, but of course there can always be unexpected delays in production. As we move into production we will discuss timing almost daily with our supplier so that we can update you as well.
2. All Shelter Pets will be submitted for safety testing. There is no reason to believe this will lead to any delays, but if there are any causes for concern (strength of stitching, materials, etc) this could lead to delays as we address any potential problems.
3. Once the Shelter Pets ship from China, there are always possible delays moving through customs. Again, this is unlikely, but it can happen to anyone so we much be aware that it could alter our shipping estimates.
We are going to frequently update all backers on the timeline, and we are always here to answer questions you may have. I will use my experience with these projects to make sure things move smoothly, and I can not wait to get Shelter Pets into your hands as soon as possible!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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