This wasn’t the ruffest mayoral campaign St. Petersburg’s ever seen.
ARIN GREENWOOD AUG 18, 2017 12 PM Creative Loafing
Mayoral elections are… not fun. A 5-year-old therapy dog named Mayor Puppypants has risen from humble beginnings to become the city’s first canine mayor.
The former shelter dog — adopted from the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center four years ago — won this position seemingly easily: Mayor Puppypants’ mom, humorist and humane educator Shannon Spring, simply started an online petition asking for him to be named to the role. Facing no competition, likely because no one else thought to start a petition for their own pet, a couple hundred signatures “elected” Mayor Puppypants top dog.
Spring says that this petition, and Mayor Puppypants’ ascension, comes after a lot of hard work. For three years, he’s been the star of Spring’s Just Humor Me workshops and camps, during which she teaches kids all over the region about things like animal cruelty and how to be good to animals.
“The mayor lives to work with kids. He really did earn this,” Spring says.
If a dog mayor sounds lighthearted — and thank Dog something in politics is right now — Spring indeed plans to use this office to advance serious animal welfare issues. Key among them is pet adoption, the importance of getting pets spayed and neutered, responsible pet stewardship “and of course celebrating all creatures fluffy, feathered, and slobbery,” Spring says, “but mainly dogs.”
Spring expects her dog will also do the usual political duties of making public appearances, riding on parade floats, and kissing — probably also licking — babies and others. And most of all, her little “pawlitician,” as she puts it, will bring a community together with his irrepressible love and joy.
“Spread love, laughter, and show the world what a shelter dog is: a hero, a lifesaver, an ambassador of love,” Spring says. “Whatever your politics, kindness to animals is something that matters to St. Petersburg.”
St. Pete’s human mayor Rick Kriseman will make an appearance at Mayor Puppypants’ inauguration party on Sept. 6, from 5:30-7:30 pm, at the Old Southeast Market. (“As you know, he’s a dog lover,” says spokesperson Benjamin J. Kirby.)
At the party, there will be cake — for people and dogs — and entertainment, as Mayor Puppypants greets his constituents. Spring is excited for her ambitious pup to be given the official Bone to the City — and then even more excited about the good she anticipates he’ll get to do with this new title — which, she anticipates, he’ll hold onto for a good long time — dog elections not getting scheduled regularly, if ever, and Mayor Puppypants being so eminently re-electable anyway.
His “platform is one of unity,” Spring says. “While there are many cute dogs, he is the most qualified.”