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Local man launches program to provide shelter animals with comfort

DEL MAR — Since graduating with an associate degree in business from MiraCosta College in 2008, Chris Blancato is already following in the footsteps of some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. He’s giving back to his community.
“I’ve admired people on the news who donate money and I’ve always wanted to give something back myself,” he said.
At Cardiff’s Dog Days of Summer on Aug. 14 he launched his first event as founder of Toys 4 Shelter Animals. Blancato’s mission is to provide a toy, bed and blanket for every shelter cat and dog in San Diego County. This includes those who are being fostered through rescue groups.
Blancato believes that animals will be better adjusted and consequently make better pets when they have some of the basic comforts of home.
The idea for Toys 4 Shelter Animals came to him after being hired last December as a retail clerk at Muttropolis, a dog boutique on South Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach.
“Since working there I realized how many people adopt animals from the shelter,” he said. “Many have told me that dogs saved them, not the other way.”
Blancato said he learned that most of the same people donate to the shelter.
“That money is used for food, medications and housing,” he said. “There’s not much leftover for toys, blankets and beds.”
Unlike most nonprofit organizations, Blancato says he is not trying to solicit recurring donations on a monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual basis. Instead, he’s using a model used by nonprofits such as the Salvation Army and March of Dimes by attracting contributions from passersby who reach into their pocket or wallet on an impulse.
“If you see me and want to donate, thank you,” he said. “You don’t have to give me your name or phone number. This gives people the satisfaction of giving a donation and getting instant gratification from it.”
Blancato explained that $5 will buy a plush toy made in the U.S.A. for a shelter cat or dog, $10 for a blanket and $20 for a bed. A contribution of $30 will purchase all three at a $5 savings.
“The bed will fit up to a 25-pound dog,” he said. “The majority of dogs at the shelter would fit on it.”
At the Dog Days of Summer event Blancato estimates he raised about $500, which will go toward the purchase of approximately 45 toys, 12 blankets and five beds for both cats and dogs.
“I think we did pretty well for the first time,” he said.
Looking to the future, he plans to set up his booth at festivals, dog parks and dog beaches.
In addition, he’s designed a retail display he hopes to place near the cash register at finer pet stores. In turn, retailers will be compensated by receiving 20 percent of the donations.
Blancato has another ambitious plan further down the road.
“Eventually, I would like to open a dog-friendly restaurant with a dog menu,” he says.
To make a donation or for more information, e-mail [email protected].