Back in 2020, the start of the pandemic limited human interactions. With people staying home as much as possible, it wasn’t easy to make new friends, especially for those new to an area. Zoe Lee, who lives in Tampa, Florida, wanted to find a way to bring people together even during difficult times.
Lee is a dog mom to a 3-year-old Boxer/Hound mix named Kali, so she was eager to meet other dog parents in the area. She was shocked to find out that no group like that existed in Tampa. So, she created “Dog Moms of Tampa Bay.”
A Space for Dog Lovers
Lee realized she couldn’t do it all alone, so four other dog moms joined her to cover all areas of Tampa. Ashley Miller is in charge of Clearwater/Dunedin, Jen Heckner handles St. Petersburg, Sarah Gill and Dorie Voecks work together to cover Tampa, and Lee manages Pasco County.
“I just wanted one place where everyone can go and find all dog-friendly places within Tampa Bay. I did research and stuff and I didn’t find any pages that had anything. So I was like, ‘alright, well, I’ll just put it together myself,’” Lee said.
Tampa is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the United States, so there was no shortage of places for dog parents to meet up. Once the group got started, they reached out to fellow dog lovers through social media and scheduled events where dogs and their humans could meet in person if they were comfortable doing so.
Even though the group is called “Dog Moms of Tampa Bay,” it’s not exclusive to dog moms. Lee says that anyone who adores canines is invited. Some people may not be allowed to have dogs due to housing, or their pets might not be dog-friendly. If that’s the case, they’re still welcome to come without their dogs so they can meet fellow dog lovers and play with some adorable pups.
Dog Moms Give Back!
As the group grew, the dog moms in charge decided to add a charity aspect. They do raffles and sell branded merchandise like shirts and car decals. All the proceeds go to shelter and rescue groups. They also hand out business cards of local dog-friendly places.
“All of those proceeds we wanted to give back to the local shelters. So, we really kind of pick a handful between Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Pasco counties that are smaller, that don’t get the attention like your Humane Society that everyone’s familiar with so we can continue to support the local, smaller rescues,” Heckner said.
Lee is amazed by how much the group grew in 2021. She’s feeling optimistic that it will become even more successful in the years to come. Many people in the group aren’t from Tampa, so it’s an excellent way for dog lovers to meet like-minded people.
If you want to learn more about the Dog Moms of Tampa Bay, check out their Instagram page!