Of all the crazy ideas associated with the phenomenal opening of Pokemon Go, this one may outdo them all.
An animal shelter in Muncie, Indiana, posted a notice on Tuesday inviting players to come down and pick up one of their dogs to accompany them on the walking game that's taking America by storm.
The idea was the brainchild of shelter director Phil Peckinpah, who had played the app with his 6-year-old daughter and the family dog. He wondered if he could get people to walk the facility’s dogs while they played.
Then, as he was driving to work, he noticed students from Ball State University walking toward campus, mesmerized by their cell phones as they played the newest game craze.
This could work, he said to himself.
It sure did.
On Wednesday, the first day of the new program, 78 people showed up to take out a dog. The shelter’s online post about the Pokemon-pup opportunity has been viewed more than two million times.
“Much to my surprise, it has just taken off like a rocket,” Peckinpaugh told InsideEdition.com.
By midday Thursday, 58 more people arrived.
“We’ve had people drive two hours to participate in this,” an elated Peckinpaugh said.
The shelter has about 100 dogs, he said. Taking them out for a game and a walk is one of the healthier ways to play Pokemon Go, which has gotten its fair share of criticism due to of players blindly wandering into traffic and other dangerous spots while glued to their phones.
“Everybody is so happy. Even the cats are happy because when the dogs come back, people come back to where the cats are and give them some lovin’ too.”
Some people take a dog for 30 minutes, some take them “for the whole afternoon,” Peckinpaugh said. They are encouraged to play near the shelter, or to take the animals to a park for a change of scenery and some exercise.
“The people are so pure of heart and they love the game and they love dogs,” he said.
Peckinpaugh says he realizes the game is a craze and that interest may wane, but he sincerely hopes it doesn’t.
“I hope that this lasts forever and we retain these people who volunteer. I know it’s a fad. But I hope people continue to come. I hope these people fall in love with our dogs and what we’re doing.”