CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- A local dog is fast becoming a Facebook sensation.
Mac, a 2-year-old pit bull, is the heart of a successful online advocacy effort that has raised funds for the rescue of neglected pit bulls nationwide.
“If I were offered $1 million for Mac, I wouldn’t take it,” said Rochelle Steffen, Mac’s owner. “He’s my Superman.”
Mac’s Facebook page, created by Steffen in August 2012 to help defray the costs of Mac’s surgeries, has raised funds for more than 20 pit bulls across the country in need of care after their rescue. Pit bulls from as far away as California, Arizona and Florida have benefited from Mac’s Fund, which comes from proceeds from the T-shirt and decal store found on his Facebook page.
“We’ve raised over $5,000 for pit bulls through Mac’s Fund, and that’s being conservative,” Steffen said. “One-hundred percent of what is made from the store, minus the cost of items and shipping, goes directly into the fund. We’re not keeping any of the money.”
Steffen, who also fosters other pit bulls at her home, said the theme of Mac’s advocacy is about “paying it forward” because Mac knows about being rescued and what it takes to recover.
“I bought Mac from a seller when he was three months old,” she said. “He weighed four pounds when he should’ve weighed over 20. He had mange and genetic defects in his hind legs. He would’ve died if I hadn’t found him.”
Steffen said she took Mac to the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri for immediate care. Once he was rehabilitated, she fostered him at her home.
“I’d fallen in love with him.” she said.
Helping to get Mac—literally—back on his feet required more than just love. Money would be needed to cover the cost of badly needed leg surgery, and Steffen said that need led her to start selling T-shirts and decals that read, “I Am Pit Bull Strong.”
“I sold them at the Cape Farmers Market,” she said. “Then I created Mac’s Facebook page, and I found there’s this crazy underground for dogs there.”
More than $4,000 was raised through sales via Mac’s Facebook store, and thanks to the generosity of others, Mac was able to receive what turned out to be four surgeries. His recovery is coming along nicely, according to Steffen.
“Mac is such a lucky dog,” she said. “He won the lottery. That’s why we’re using his page to pay it forward to other pit bulls.”
In addition to raising money for the care of rescued pit bulls, Mac’s Fund provides for small goody boxes to be sent to the animals. Steffen also has initiated “Mac’s 1 for 1”—if two matching gifts are sent to Mac during his recovery, one of them will be donated to the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri.
“It’s a cool program,” said Kelly Goff, director of the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri. “Rochelle brought in what I can only term a lot of toys and other items this past Sunday. She’s been a volunteer at the Humane Society for 12 years, and we absolutely appreciate what she does. I wish Mac well in his continued recovery.”
As someone who has cared for animals since she was 7 years old, Steffen said she doesn’t plan on shutting down Mac’s Facebook page anytime soon. She also is organizing a skeeball tournament fundraiser this fall at West Park Mall to further aid rescued pit bulls.
“I’ll just keep going,” she said. “Mac and I are so grateful for the help he received, and we want others to keep receiving help, too.”