According to the ASPCA, each year approximately 7.6 companion animals enter shelters nationwide – approximately 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats. Of those, approximately 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are euthanized. Patrick McDonnell, creator of the phenomenally successful, award-winning comic strip MUTTS (http://www.Mutts.com), is devoted to helping shelter animals avoid that fate.
Growing up in Edison, New Jersey in the 1960s, McDonnell longed for two things – to own a dog and create comics. Alas, he didn’t achieve the first goal until way into his thirties: “My family had cats. I used to buy books on how to raise and train a dog but Mom and Dad never took the hint. They thought my siblings and I wouldn’t be responsible.”
The second goal had a much shorter gestation period: “From the age of five, comic strips like Peanuts gave me such joy,” McDonell said. “Charles Schultz was my idol. I knew I wanted to tell stories with pictures and words.” The artist began his career as a magazine illustrator, from 1978 to 1993 drawing the Russell Baker Observer column for the New York Times Sunday Magazine. He also created a comic strip for Parents magazine called Bad Baby and contributed to Sports Illustrated, Reader’s Digest, Times and Forbes. Now 60, McDonnell laughs, remembering, “I used to add to illustrations what I thought was a generic white dog with a circle around his eye in the background.”