The picture is iconic: a dog named Hawkeye lies next to a coffin containing his guardian Jon Tumilson who died fighting for his country. The image inspired the owner of Audrey’s Pet Supply and Services, Brittany Bang, to create Project: BART in tribute to fallen Navy SEALs like Tumilson.
“I came up with the idea to design a t-shirt, mocking up the idea of dogs, SEALs and heroes,” Bang says. “50 percent of the proceeds from the shirts go to the Navy SEAL Foundation to help families and pets of fallen soldiers.”
The project gets it’s name from a military working dog named Bart who lost his life in the August 6, 2011, helicopter crash in Afghanistan that also killed 31 servicemen, including Jon Tumilson.
“A good customer of ours had lost family members in Afghanistan,” Bang says. “She said she wanted to create a tribute to honor both the two- and four-legged heroes that were fighting for our country.”
Audrey’s Pet Supply and Services has a spot in the store called the “Middle Table,” from which proceeds go to various animal charities. Bang felt that this was a unique way to raise awareness.
“It’s interesting that people don’t realize there are dogs used in warfare,” Bang says. “I thought this would be a great opportunity to teach people as well as give back to the Navy SEAL Foundation.”
For the shirt design, Bang teamed up with Elaine Sanfilippo, the owner of AdopTee’s—a shop that specializes in apparel for animal lovers. Bang and Sanfilippo learned a lot about military working dogs in their meetings with the Navy SEAL Foundation.
“Dogs often are sent into many types of hostage situations or other military situations,” Bang says. “They are sent in all the time to places humans just can’t get to. The Navy SEAL trained dog is an integral part of the military.”
Bang and Sanfilippo came up with three shirt designs. The shirt designs are named: “The Hawkeye,” “The Toby,” and “The Bart,” each is named for a dog that either fought alongside soldiers or was a companion to one. “The Hawkeye” design includes an image of a soldier and dog standing in front of the SEAL Team memorial wall, “The Toby” is a twist on the SEAL creed, and “The Bart” is a dog dressed in aquatic gear with snorkel, vest, and flippers. On the back of each shirt, the story of the August 6 helicopter crash is shown along with a description of the role dogs play in soldier’s lives.
Bang says that the creation of the shirts was a two-month process.
“We launched Project: BART right before Thanksgiving,” Bang says. “Before we were able to sell the shirts, we had to give a presentation at a Virginia Beach Navy SEALs base.”
Since going on sale, Bang says that the shirts have been a hit.
“I am so proud to be at the root of Project: BART and am thrilled to work with people who feel my same passion,” Bang says. “Coming up with the concept of honoring fallen soldiers may not be a novel idea, but paying tribute to America’s heroes is something that is really hitting home with our customers.”
For more information or to buy Project: BART products, please visit AdopTeesOnline.com, or pick one up at the “Middle Table” in Audrey’s Pet Supply and Services.