An animal shelter in Muncie, Indiana, is using Pokémon Go madness to get players to volunteer to walk dogs at the shelter.
The idea is "to combine the new influx of people walking around the city with the shelter's need for dog walkers," a rep from Muncie Animal Shelter told BuzzFeed.
Phil Peckinpaugh, the director of the Muncie Animal Shelter, hatched the idea out of his own love for the game. After he watched large swaths of people in his town wandering around aimlessly, and he played it with his daughter, he knew something good could come out of this.
"The exercise and stimulation for the dogs is the first priority," he explained. "If we can get volunteers and adoptions, that’s been the number one goal. Always."
The initiative received tons of praise on social media, with tens of thousands of people sharing, retweeting, and commenting.
...All without jokes, of course.
Peckinpaugh says it's only been an hour since Pokémon Go dog walking has officially opened, and he's already seen lines of kids and adults at the shelter looking at adoptable pets and waiting to walk one around the neighbourhood.
"Kids, they love it!" he relayed. "There are people walking dogs [right now], posting pics on their Instagrams and social media. That exposure for the dogs is really quite epic."
As for any safety concerns with Pokémon Go trainers being too immersed in the game while on these walks, the shelter is addressing them and reminding every individual to put the dogs first.
"If you can’t be responsible while playing the game, you’re not the best fit," he said in response to these concerns. "We address the individuals and volunteers coming in to please be careful and please be safe. So far there haven’t been any issues."
"The idea is for the dog to have the same adventure as the person playing the game!" he adds.
"If this game connects prospective families with these animals, then that is the best we could ask for."
The name of the director of Muncie Animal Shelter is Phil Peckinpaugh. A previous version of this story misspelled his last name.