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By Lillian Boyd

For the first time ever, Pet Project Foundation is launching “Doggy Day Out” as a way to garner support for the local animal shelter’s efforts to find homes for its animals.

In celebration of National Dog Day, Pet Project Foundation is partnering with local restaurants and retailers to raise money for the San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter through the Doggy Day Out campaign. On Sunday, Aug. 23, participating businesses will donate 10% of a customer’s purchase to the cause.

“Doggy Day Out has never been done before. Typically, this weekend we would host Barks and Brews with the Outlets at San Clemente, which helps us to raise thousands of dollars for our shelter animals,” said Vickie McMurchie, chairperson for Pet Project Foundation. “Obviously, because of COVID-19 and restrictions on events, that’s not possible this year.”

Pet Project Foundation is a nonprofit that commits itself to raising more than $300,000 annually for San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter to provide medical care, food and training for lost and abandoned animals in San Clemente and Dana Point.

Vickie McMurchie, chairperson for Pet Project Foundation, snuggles with Ingrid, a Chihuahua currently waiting a forever home while residing at the San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter. Photo: Shawn Raymundo

McMurchie, who is also the executive director for the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce, says that the foundation created Doggy Day Out as a way for supporters to still celebrate National Dog Day and give back to Pet Project Foundation, in a non-event format, while supporting local businesses.

“Supporting small business was a major factor in planning this fundraiser,” McMurchie said. “While planning this, we didn’t feel right about just asking businesses for a handout, as we know they’ve been suffering through the pandemic as well. Doggy Day Out seemed like a win-win to both help us raise funds, but also to drive business to these local merchants who have so generously supported us along the way.”

Pet Project Foundation is tasked with fundraising for the shelter year-round—an unusual perk for the shelter, enabling it to successfully house animals while being pro-humane. The foundation’s annual gala, which is typically held in the fall, will not be held this year due to pandemic concerns.

A fundraising committee was formed to brainstorm creative ways to fundraise safely, and McMurchie says there will be more fun events to come.

San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter’s Animal Rescue Mission (ARM) helps relieve county shelters of their higher population of animals by transferring some of them to the Coastal Animal Services Authority (CASA) based in San Clemente. CASA oversees San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter.

Denise Zolg, president and volunteer coordinator for Pet Project Foundation, poses with Noble, a Pitbull, at the San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter on Tuesday, Aug. 18. Photo: Shawn Raymundo

“We continue to be very successful in adopting out our shelter animals,” said Kim Cholodenko, general manager for CASA. “We have rescued a larger number from overcrowded county agencies and have found wonderful homes for them. We are very thankful for all our staff, volunteers for providing exceptional care for our shelter animals, and for our adopters in providing forever homes.”

The San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter is currently closed to the general public, as a response to COVID-19 concerns. But operations have adapted to adhere to state and county directives, while ensuring animals have a chance to go to a good home.

“We’re all in this together—and if that ultimately helps us save animals, well, that’s just amazing,” McMurchie said. “We are so grateful to the businesses who have partnered with us, and I hope that their stores and patios will be full (socially distanced, of course) of pet-loving supporters and their dogs, too.”

For those interested in adopting from San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter, the first step is to download an adoption application at or the city of San Clemente’s website at Look under “Animal Services” to access the application.

Send the completed application to or fax it to the shelter office at 949.366.4765. Once the application is received, a staff member will be in touch to schedule an interaction.

Participating Businesses


Active Culture

Barnoa Wine Company

Cosentino’s Pizza

Downtown Boutique

H.H. Cotton’s

Mikii’s On Del Mar

Murf Electric Bikes

Outrigger Tavern

Poke + Roll 808

The Wicker Bee

Tyger Lotus


Bonjour Cafe & Bistro

Brio Tuscany Grille

Casanova Ristorante

Killer Dana (both locations)

Lil’ Skippers Snack Shack

Maison Café + Market

The Harbor Grill

Tutor & Spunky’s Deli


Plant Depot

The Dog Pawrk Brewing Company

Trevor’s at the Tracks

Lillian Boyd
Lillian Boyd is the senior editor for Picket Fence Media and city editor for Dana Point Times. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Humboldt State University. Her work experience includes interviewing incarcerated individuals in the Los Angeles County jails, an internship at the Pentagon covering U.S. Army news as well as reporting and anchoring for a local news radio station in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @Lillianmboyd and follow Dana Point Times at @danapointtimes.

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