You can catch 'em all and help shelter dogs too.
Phil Pechingpaugh, director of the Muncie Animal Shelter in Indiana, was walking his dog and playing Pokémon Go with his daughter when he had a brilliant idea.
He noticed hoards of people walking around doing the exact same thing they were doing — catching Pokémon — only without a dog.
"I just thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could pair these people who are already out walking with shelter dogs who need exercise and stimulation?" Phil told Welcometoterranova.
It sounded like the perfect partnership — people can get in a Pokéwalks while giving the pups some attention and fresh air at the same time.
Phil asked a friend to design simple ad. Little did he know how much attention it would draw.
"I didn’t expect much at all. I thought maybe we’ll get five or six people down here … but nothing like what we have received. We’ve had over 70 people in here today," Phil exclaimed.
The people showing up to volunteer aren't just college kids playing Pokémon in their down time.
People of all ages have been coming from places near and far, Phil said, mentioning one girl who drove over two hours just so she could volunteer her time walking shelter dogs (and playing Pokémon, of course).
Phil's ad has already been shared on Facebook over 25,000 times and liked over 7,000 times on Twitter.
In the comments, people are posting with encouragement and love for this idea. It's as if everyone had just been waiting for a way to give back while collecting Squirtles and Pidgeys.
With so many people showing up at the shelter in groups of three or four, the dog walkers had to develop a system in which one person would focus on dog walking while the others catch Pokémon.
"If you’re not responsible enough to do that, this probably isn’t the best option for you," Phil noted.
Phil hasn't had any problems with distracted dog walkers thus far, but he and his team do express caution to every person who comes in eager to give this fun, good Samaritan exercise a try.
The biggest compliment has come from other local shelters, Phil says.
"We’ve had other shelters that have reached out and said, 'now we’re going to do this.' I find that to be the biggest form of flattery," Phil told Welcometoterranova.
Thanks to Phil, Pokémon Go may end up being responsible for a major uptick in shelter dog adoptions nationwide. He's already had a couple interested parties come in looking to adopt, and the Pokémon Dogs program has only been around for a day.
Phil never would've imagined he'd be bring this much positive attention to Muncie and especially not because of a phone game. It just goes to show, small towns can make big splashes, especially when someone finds a way to combine fun with a good deed.