Memorial graduate raises $ 600,000 to make documentary on importance of dog adoptions

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Sammy Abdullah works in venture capital but now finds himself raising funds.

Abdullah, a 2001 Memorial High School graduate who recently returned from Dallas to the Memorial area, is not fundraising for a business but rather for a documentary on rescue and shelter dogs.

His goal is to raise $ 600,000 to make the documentary Rescue dogs, which follows three stories around Austin that highlight the value of dog adoptions through a nonprofit he created for the project.

Abdullah admits he was ambivalent about dogs before adopting a stray dog ​​a friend found in December 2015.

“In 12 hours he became my dog,” Abdullah said. “His name is Pépé. It was really Pepe as a stray dog ​​that sort of made me, one, love dogs, and two, made me realize that there is a pretty serious euthanasia issue.

According to data from the ASPCA which is cited on the fact sheet for Rescue dogs, approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year, of which approximately 670,000 are euthanized for lack of adoption.

Pepe now has his own photo and a short bio on the documentary’s backgrounder as well as on Abdullah’s company website, Blossom Street Ventures.

Abdullah had tried for years to do something to help promote dog adoption, first developing an app that he admitted “was terrible and didn’t work” and then trying to create software that , according to him, had not even started.

He reflected on the recent importance of documentaries, citing how Black fish completely changed attitudes about SeaWorld and its captive and animal training program, how everyone he knew had watched one or both of the Fyre Fest documentaries, and how The game changers got a lot of people, including him, to try veganism.

“I think we all see documentaries changing the way people consume and receive information, so I realized that what we might need is a documentary that gets released on Netflix. , YouTube, Hulu, whatever, to change the culture around what an adopted animal really is, ”Abdullah said.

“I think people who don’t adopt are great people. I just think maybe they don’t realize that we have a problem with dog and cat adoption, ”he added. “We are now trying to solve this problem with the documentary. “

So Abdullah contacted his old friend from the University of Texas, Andrew Miller, a documentary maker.

“I thought it was a very useful project, something that I thought wasn’t there already,” said Miller, who was recruited to the team as co-director and cinematographer. “It’s worth it in the sense that consumer behavior is, I think, at the heart of the issue and therefore communication is a good way to get the word out to our audience. “

“Be careful, this is an extremely early phase of the documentary; it’s an exploratory process, so my vision at this point will undoubtedly evolve, ”Miller added. “But, at this point, I can probably be pretty optimistic, so I would say my personal ambition for the project is to make the definitive documentary on dog adoption, rescue and puppy mills.”

So far Abdullah, who calls himself a producer / financial backer / sponsor, has raised around $ 61,000 for Rescue Dogs, of which $ 25,000 has come from himself and most of the rest has come from his family and friends. close friends.

While he has received many other donations of $ 25, $ 50, or $ 100, Abdullah believes the best way to achieve the fundraising goal is to find a person or organization who will be a major sponsor.

Some of the organizations he mentioned that might be able to help include the Subaru Pet Adoption Charity, the foundation of Astros launcher Lance McCullers Jr. that promotes animal adoption. company or a dog-focused business like Barkbox, although it hasn’t been successful yet. to get in touch with these organizations.

“I really think for this to work it’s going to be seen by someone who really cares about the problem and has the resources to be a big contributor,” Abdullah said.

Another close friend of Abdullah’s from his years at the University of Texas, Fort Worth oil and gas lawyer Erik Martin helps raise funds and support for Rescue dogs.

Abdullah and Martin contributed $ 5,000 each to make a 12-minute trailer for the documentary, which has already been made.

After helping make the trailer, Miller continues to meet people, research, and develop the storylines for Rescue dogs. He sees the development of these early stages as overlapping strongly with the fundraising efforts of Abdullah and Martin.

Abdullah has set up a webpage with project information, trailer, and paypal link to contribute to the project.

He can also be contacted at sammy@blossomstreetventures.com.

elliott.lapin@hearst.com


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