Paola Potts first became involved with RedRover about three years ago. As a person who is extremely sensitive to heat, she began noticing that dogs were often being left unattended in parked cars. Through research, Paola discovered the My Dog Is Cool (MDIC) website, and started distributing MDIC fliers, posters and copies of the California law to the public. Paola wanted to take it a step further, though, and in 2012, she developed a parking lot sign campaign.
A major factor to Paola’s inspiring success has been her involvement with the RedRover Cool Crew, a private Facebook group for people who are passionate about preventing dogs from suffering in hot cars. “The formation of the Cool Crew group was a brilliant idea from RedRover,” she said. “The parking lot sign campaign was born and evolved through my communication with the members of the Cool Crew… we share research, ideas, information, advice, support and encouragement on how to effectively educate the public about the issue of dogs left in parked cars. It is a proactive group.” So far, Ace Parking in San Diego has installed 17 of Paola’s signs, the Escondido Salvation Army has installed 10 signs and the City of Escondido has agreed to install at least 100 signs. Way to go Paola!
What is next for Paola? “This is a community service that I have embraced and I do it with dedication and love to protect dogs from unneeded suffering,” she said. “Once the signs are installed by the City of Escondido, I plan to approach other city councils and planning departments throughout San Diego and Orange Counties.”
Paola also plans to create a website to make these signs available, at no cost, to anyone who is interested. For anyone who wants to undertake a similar campaign for the animals, Paola recommends: “Do research on the issue, obtain information, contact animal organizations that address the same issues, be proactive and be polite but be persistent in achieving your goal.”
Paola shared her recommended procedures for launching your own campaign:
1. Contact the City’s Planning Department to inquire about the Sign Ordinance for private and public parking lots for informational signs and inquire about the approval process. In most cases, the City Council’s approval is needed for municipal parking lots but not for private parking lots. All of these inquiries can be done via email.
2. Create a mock up of the sign based on City regulations.
3. Obtain printing and installation quotes from at least three professional sign printers for 10 signs, 20 signs, 50 signs and 100 signs. Make sure that your quotes are for the exact printing process. I have selected a printing process where the life expectancy of the warning signs range from 5 to 20 years.
4. Request approval from the City Council for installation of signs in municipal parking lots.
5. Once approval has been obtained for either private and/or municipal parking lots, ask the number of signs that the parking lot representative would like to have installed, who will do the installation and whether it is permitted to insert a sponsor’s name on the sign(s).
6. Contact the professional sign printer you have selected and ask for a written cost estimate for the number of signs/hardware/installation for that specific project because the prospective sponsors should know exactly the cost of the signs including taxes and delivery charges.
7. Contact the prospective sponsors via email, snail mail or telephone and provide a letter describing the project and the cost. Include sample(s) of the sign(s) and a copy of the actual cost estimate for the project.
8. Get a cup of coffee and wait for the responses.
9. If you have a sample sign printed, you can also visit businesses that might like to sponsor these signs.