Many people attend auto shows to learn about the latest innovations within the automotive industry, but attendees who stop by the Subaru booth might end up leaving with a new family member.
Since 2018, Subaru has partnered with auto shows across the country, including the Los Angeles Auto Show, to help find loving homes for adoptable dogs. The initiative is part of the Subaru Love Promise, the company’s philanthropic and social impact mission. Throughout the year, Subaru focuses on five different foundational pillars that make up the Love Promise: helping find loving homes for pets, preserving the environment, giving back to local communities, helping those in need and supporting childhood education.
“Subaru and our retailers are dedicated to making the world a better place, simply because it’s the right thing to do,” said Julie Campbell, shows and events specialist for Subaru of America. “The Subaru Love Promise is really a commitment to improving the lives of those around us — not just with donations, but also with actions that bring us closer to the community and encourage others to get involved to increase the cumulative impact.”
Since 2018, Subaru and its retailers have donated $465,000 to aid pet organizations and have helped 867 pets find loving homes at the LA Auto Show and other auto shows across the country. Plenty of dogs are finding loving homes thanks to Subaru Loves Pets, a pillar of the Subaru Love Promise, but these happy occasions also come as the result of thorough planning and collaboration with the show’s organizers.
“We figured out everything from the logistics of poop bags to everything else you need to do a dog adoption at an auto show,” said Terri Toennies, president of the LA Auto Show. “We know that the puppies get tired, so we bring in the dogs in shifts to let them take naps throughout the day as needed.”
When the partnership first started out, it was a bit of a challenge to gain traction with local pet organizations and animal shelters. After all, pet organizations are not exactly accustomed to fielding dog adoption requests from auto shows. That’s all changed in the last few years as shelters across the nation have perked their ears and heard about the automaker’s work.
“Now that people have seen what this is and seen coverage about it on the news, they’re saying, ‘I’m happy to help!’ ‘Can I get on board?’ ‘We’d like to sign up,’” Campbell said.
The pandemic disrupted the growth of the dog adoption effort, but Subaru bounced back in 2021. “This past show season, 2021-2022, was when we really got our legs under us,” Campbell said. “We participated in 43 shows, and we had 279 dogs adopted.”
With animal shelters eager to participate and a full schedule of 45 auto shows booked for the 2022-2023 season, the Subaru Loves Pets auto show adoption program shows no signs of slowing down. “We have actually had a few people that were specifically coming to the show because they wanted to adopt a dog,” Campbell said.
The dogs aren’t just entertaining for customers. Toennies said that amidst a bustling auto show, with thousands of people milling about, having an area to briefly relax with the adoptable dogs is also therapeutic for auto show employees. “From our standpoint it’s really cool, because the Subaru booth is right underneath our show office,” Toennies said. “I can look down on the booth all day long and see the dogs coming and going.”
Because the dogs have been such a smash hit, Subaru has explored the idea of expanding the program to other pet species, but the team doesn’t want to bite off more than they can chew.
“We have looked at the idea of having other animals,” Campbell said. “Cats would probably be a little bit more doable, but they’re still escape artists. So, the concern would be a cat getting out, running all over the auto show, getting into the cars and just being a little bit difficult to recapture.”
Cats and cars may sound like a plan fated to go awry, but they aren’t the only critters deemed too chaotic for the auto shows. “We just got a call this last week that an exotic reptile company wanted to exhibit,” Toennies said, “and we said ‘No, thank you!’”
The dogs are the stars of the show, and it doesn’t sound like they will be losing their spot to cats or lizards anytime soon. Nearly 70 percent of Subaru owners have pets, and at least half of those are dogs, so focusing on canines makes sense. Soon, the auto show adoption events will have helped over 1,000 dogs find homes, demonstrating the program clearly resonates with Subaru’s consumer base.
“The thing that is so special to me about these events is seeing how much joy they bring to so many people, the look of anticipation on the faces of these people,” Toennies told us. “They’ll wait in line to get into the dog park, and they will wait for the opportunity to love on these dogs.”
Most car salespeople want to put you in a new car, but the team at Subaru wants to put a new dog in there with you. Check out the Subaru booth at your next local auto show, and you just might find a new set of wheels and a four-legged friend to boot.
This article series is sponsored by Subaru and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.
Images courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.
Patrick is a freelance journalist who writes what the robots can't. Based in Syracuse, New York, Patrick seeks to uplift, inform, and inspire readers with stories centered on environmental activism, social justice, and arts and music. He enjoys collecting books and records, writing prose and poetry, and playing guitar.