HERMITAGE, Pa. – When Danielle Pursel began creating costumes for her pets more than a decade ago, little did she realize that her hobby would turn into a business.
Her doggy couture has been featured in celebrity pet fundraisers.
Now, her creativity has landed her dog, Reese, into the top 10 finals for the Cadbury Bunny tryouts.
After submitting a picture of Reese, a 2-year-old Biro, dressed up as an Easter bunny next to a wheelbarrow of Cadbury candy eggs, Pursel didn’t hear anything back for a while and assumed her dog didn’t place.
Then she got an email from Cadbury, saying Reese placed in the top 20. She was then asked to submit a video, after which Reese was named a top 10 finalist out of the thousands of entries.
Voting is now under way at BunnyTryouts.cadburyusa.com and ends at 11:59 p.m. on March 22. Cadbury will announce the winner on March 23.
“I always looked forward to the Cadbury contest because I like to be creative,” said Pursel, 48, of Hermitage, adding that she always looked forward to the creativity of the entrants. “This year we had the idea of taking a picture of Reese beside a mound of Cadbury eggs.”
Pursel’s creativity with dog costuming has not gone unnoticed in her hometown.
“When people saw my dogs with their costumes, they began asking me to make them for their own pets,” she said, adding that she currently sells them online via special order or Etsy under the name: SewDoggoneCreative. “I get requests as early as July for Halloween and its insane by August.”
When she found out Reese had placed in the Cadbury contest, she couldn’t believe it. “My family and I were just super excited,” said she said.
The winning animal will be featured in the well-known Cadbury Easter commercials and Cadbury will donate $5,000 to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) with an additional $5,000 for every 5,000 votes, up to a total of $20,000. “We plan to use any funds we win to go toward the care of Reese,” she said, and considered it an “added bonus” Cadbury was also donating to the ASPCA.
“The give back is important,” Pursel said, adding that she donates pet costumes to Celebrity Catwalk in Spartansburg, SC, which raises hundreds of thousands of dollars toward various animal charities and has included such notables as Jamie Foxx, Nicole Richie, Nigel Barker and singer Mya. “I’ve been doing that for four years as well as supporting local animal charities.”
As for Reese, he is a local celebrity in his own right, with people stopping Pursel anytime she is out with him to rave over the rarity of his breed and his distinctive coloring.
“He is very lovable and knows how to tell you what he wants,” Pursel said about her 7-pound fur baby.
Pursel will be setting up photo booths throughout the Shenango Valley for photo opportunities and to invite people to vote online for Reese. They’ll also be collecting gently used bedding and kitty litter for the Shenango Valley Animal Shelter at their booth setups.
Here is the schedule:
March 17: 10 a.m. to noon at Hermitage Agway, 4065 E. State St., Hermitage.
March 18: 1-3 p.m. at Fette Veterinary Clinic, 2945 Highland Road, Hermitage.
March 19: Noon to 4 p.m. at Kraynaks, 2525 E. State St., Hermitage, Pa.
March 22: 2-4 p.m. at Yuppy Puppy Spa & Boutique, 3002 E. State St., Hermitage.
To keep up with Reese, follow him on Instagram at @reesepuffcup or @sewdoggonecreative or follow Sew Doggone Creative on Facebook.
Pictured: Danielle Pursel with her dog, Reese, and his Easter bunny costume.
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.