On the front of a grey T-shirt, animated dogs chase each other across the Inner Harbor cityscape. On another, two pets hug each other, forming the shape of a heart. On a third, called “Pawgoda” (and also available in pillow form!), a too-cute cat poses in front of the Patterson Park Pagoda.
Despite their sweet appearances, these tees and housewares have a serious mission: to aid the Maryland SPCA on its mission to “improve the lives of pets and people in the community.”
Situated in Hampden, the MD SPCA has an undisputable influence on the animal welfare in the area. Each year, the organization finds homes for over 3,500 needy pets, provides around 7,000 animal surgeries and rescues 1,400 animals from shelters.
Because the MD SPCA is a private nonprofit, it receives no monetary support from other animal welfare organizations or the government. Instead, it’s supported largely by private contributions and other fundraising efforts.
“So many people think we’re a part of the ASPCA, but we’re not,” says Tina Regester, Director of Communications at the Maryland SPCA. “We have to collect our own donations in order to operate.”
The online shop, which offers MD SPCA-inspired clothing and home décor, is one of the alternative means through which the organization generates money, with proceeds from online sales directly benefiting the organization.
Many of the carefree designs are the works of local artists Mark Kubat and Richard Kercz. Kercz, who works as a designer at NPR, first heard about the project through his wife Misty, the MD SPCA’s Marketing and Graphic Design Specialist.
Reflecting on the inspiration for his designs, Kercz says, “I appreciate the unpretentious, down-to-earth personalities of Baltimoreans, who definitely have a soft spot for animals. The designs I have contributed are a celebration of the animals and this city that we share with them.”
According to Regester, the MD SPCA began collaborating with community artists like Kercz and Kubat last summer. Prior to establishing the partnerships, the organization had depended on staff members to generate the graphics for its merchandise.
Regester says that since introducing the new designs, the SPCA has received incredibly positive feedback.
“We’re hearing that folks love the new designs because they’re so different! Some of the prints have local landmarks on them, which is something people seem to really enjoy.”
Interested local artists are welcome to contact the MD SPCA about donating their designs. As Regester notes, “We’re always looking for talented artists in the community to submit their work. It’s a great way to support the organization and help animals in need.”
Shop the designs here.