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Austi​n FC's 'mascots' find forever homes with Austin Pets Alive! program

Austin FC's mascot program got 15 shelter dogs adopted throughout its first season. (Austin FC)

Austin FC may not have 15 wins on the pitch, but the club's mascots won over thousands of fans as 15 rescue pups were adopted during the team's first season as part of the Austin Pets Alive! Honorary Mascot program.

Featured at each home game at Q2 Stadium, these Verde-clad rescue dogs welcomed supporters with winning smiles as they searched for their forever homes. The program found 15 great matches and even had Austin FC goalkeeper Will Pulisic foster 4-year-old Black Rose for a few months this summer.

Pulisic and his girlfriend, Mia de Leon, took care of Black Rose after she had spent two months with APA even though there wasn't much information on her previous life.

Austin FC player Will Pulisic and his girlfriend Mia de Leon fostered four-year-old pup Black Rose for two months this summer. (Austin FC)

"Nobody was really looking to adopt her I guess because nobody really knew what she was like," Pulisic said. "So we kind of took a chance and it worked out amazing. She was so sweet and awesome to have around. And eventually were able to find her permanent home."

People may not have been interested in her before, but with attention from Pulisic and Austin FC, she got dozens of inquiries before getting adoped two months later. Then came the hard part—Pulisic said the couple nearly adopted her, but being just a year out of college, decided against it and had a bittersweet goodbye.

She was she was the right dog for us," Pulisic said. "We got really attached, but... we're not quite ready for quite ready for that. We still talk about her a lot, but we know he did the right thing for her which ultimately makes us happy."

While Pulisic found out about Austin Pets Alive! through Austin FC, for Jessica Gay, it was the other way around.

Gay , a graduate student at the University of Texas, was temporarily fostering pit bull Missy when she learned that the popular pup was getting dozens of inquiries after her week as an Austin FC mascot.

She got her application in for Missy, who already had her own Instagram account, just in the nick of time and has since learned more about the mascot program and Austin FC's partnerships with local companies in the process.

"I hadn't known much about them until Missy became their temporary mascot, and I just think it's so awesome," Gay said. " I've heard a lot from other people saying that they do a great job partnering with local community organization in their partnership with Pets Alive. I think it really does make a huge difference in their ability to adopt dogs out."

Gay, Pulisic and other adoptee families toured Q2 Stadium to celebrate their pets in a press conference on Oct. 29. Like Gay, Amy Matlock hadn't heard of the Austin FC initiative until after she had met her 4-year-old pit bull Woody at Austin Pets Alive!, but after having a "love at first sight" encounter in the shelter and later seeing him greet fans in a Verde bandanna with the team, she couldn't believe her luck.

"It was an instant connection," Matlock said. "I know it seems weird, but the first time he came in and jumped up on me', I was like, I love him.' It's so weird."

Pets have become a bright spot in the pandemic for many as they live and work at home, and both Matlock and Gay say their pups have instantly improved their lives.

"My quality of life has improved so much since the moment I got her," Gay said. "The structure and schedule that she provides to my everyday life is so good for me...she's so excited to see other people so then I get to socialize with other people."


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