In July, a New Jersey pizzeria went viral for inviting its surrounding community to leave “lost dog” flyers at their restaurant to attach to their pizza box lids.
For no charge, the pizzeria distributed the flyers with every pizza they delivered.
That act inspired southern Scottsdale resident Marika Meeks to reach out to Papa John’s.
Meeks thought, instead of slapping “lost dog” flyers onto pizza boxes, why not attach “home wanted” box-toppers featuring an adoptable dog, encouraging residents to adopt?
“I couldn’t stop thinking about it and how we could use it to help rescue dogs get into homes. Then it hit me: We could feature local dogs in need of their own ‘furever’ home and I created a flyer and presented the idea,” Meeks said.
The idea appealed to Lance Stafko, Papa John’s franchise owner and operating partner of Round Rock AZ – which owns and manages franchise locations in Phoenix, Oklahoma City and Denver.
“The franchise owner of Papa John’s Pizza loves dogs and thought it was a great way to help,” Meeks said.
The box-toppers will be featured at a total of 36 Valley Papa John’s locations, including pizza shops in Buckeye, Laveen, Surprise, Goodyear, Peoria and Glendale.
In addition to featuring a photo and age of an adoptable dog in the Valley, the box-toppers also invite customers to text the word “dog” to 33777 to receive even more information on a dog, including photos, videos and adoption application information.
The box-toppers also include a 30 percent off coupon the customer can use on his or her next online Papa John’s order. Stafko and his wife have two dogs of their own, so they were sold on the idea.
“We are devoted to our dogs and are excited to have an opportunity to help amazing dogs find great homes and to be partnering with Incredibull Stella,” Lasko said.
Meeks rescued Stella when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 41. A survivor, Meeks went on to launch Stella’s Instagram page in 2017 and now has more than 69,000 followers.
Meeks also created a nonprofit called Incredibull Stella, named after her pit bull, Stella.
The nonprofit is not only an advocate for pit bull breed awareness, but it also supports rescue and adoption shelters, promotes spay/neuter initiatives, and rescues and fosters puppies and adult dogs until a “forever family” can be found.
This isn’t the first time Papa John’s has supported Meeks and the Incredibull Stella nonprofit’s efforts.
On a Nov. 9 adoption event at Maricopa County Animal Care & Control, Papa John’s fed volunteers with donated pizzas.
In 2018 alone, Maricopa County Animal Care & Control brought in more than 26,000 dogs, of which 29 percent were returned to the owner, leaving more than 22,000 dogs in need of homes.
Valley rescues and shelters would like to take part in the program and feature their own adoptable dogs can email firstname.lastname@example.org.