Jimena Panduro, Austin FC
With apologies to the rest of Major League Soccer, it's pretty clear which team has the best mascot(s): Austin FC.
The club, which begins its first season in the top flight of American soccer Saturday, has partnered with Austin Pets Alive! to feature an adoptable dog from the nonprofit as the team's honorary mascot for each 2021 home match.
Austin FC won't host a game at Q2 Stadium until June 19, but after that fans and potential pet parents will have 16 more MLS home games to potentially find their new fur baby. Austin Pets Alive! works to save pets who are at risk of euthanization, so the dogs appearing at this summer's matches might very well be on their way to a new life they almost didn't have.
"APA! has been fortunate enough to be a part of the Austin community for a little over a decade now," Dr. Ellen Jefferson, APA!'s president and CEO, said in a statement. "We've grown with this community and are excited to take a seat next to Austin FC and be a part of this new development in such a unique way! This is a really fun adventure to be on!"
According to the club and APA!, the mascot dogs will participate in pre-match activities as well as be featured on social media. Plus, we're sure they'll each be available for plenty of pics and pets at the stadium.
We'd love to show you which dogs will be featured at the games, but APA! hasn't picked the lucky dogs out yet because we're still weeks away from the home opener, says Colleen Ketchum with APA! With so many days still to go, it's possible the dogs chosen could be adopted before they head out onto the pitch.
While we can't condone rooting for Austin FC on the pitch—sorry, already have a team—we sure hope this program is so successful that the team has to abandon it before the season ends because all the dogs have been adopted.