15/10 A Very Good Boy

Through his devoted following, Matt Nelson of WeRateDogs has raised over $2 million to help dogs in need. He’s keeping the feel-good vibes flowing with his own philanthropic organization, the 15/10 Foundation.


We RateDogs is one of the largest digital pet platforms on the Internet—but when Matt Nelson started it, he certainly wasn’t thinking about a career. 

Then a 19-year-old college student at North Carolina’s Campbell University for Professional Golf Management, he started an account sharing cute dog photos on Twitter as a way to, well, pass some time.


His quick-witted humour, in combination with some of the cutest photos on the planet, ended up being an unexpected recipe for success: when the account launched in 2015, the follower count steadily grew by the thousands—and today sits at just over nine million (or a combined 12 million if you include Instagram and Facebook). By age 21, he was making in the six-figure range by rating dogs on Twitter.

Matt Nelson of WeRateDogs with Zoey his Golden Retriever and Sizzle his adopted Pooch

“I love dogs. I love Twitter. I love making people laugh,” Nelson tells Modern Dog, reflecting on how the account got started. “Those interests, combined with being a bored college student, is what eventually led to WeRateDogs.”

Capitalizing on a social media following is big business these days, especially when it comes to opportunities for merch and collaborative branded content, which can generate serious revenue. Simply put, the chance for a dream career with dogs (that also paid the bills) was too lucrative for Nelson to give up.

WeRateDogs social post

“I still love golf, but when the opportunity to drop out and work with dogs full time presented itself, I had to take it,” he says.

WeRateDogs has also had a major influence on dog internet culture; beyond becoming a brand in and of itself, the platform has spawned popular terms like “pupper” and “doggo.” If you follow any dog meme accounts, the two terms are quite literally impossible to avoid—even in 2022.

WeRateDogs Social Post

“It’s a very interesting thing to have a major influence on,” Nelson shares. “Depending on how you feel about it, I’ll take this opportunity to apologize to those who feel personally victimized by ‘pupper’ and ‘doggo’. My olive branch is that we haven’t used those words since 2017,” he adds.

While the account will forever be known for people sending in photos of their dogs to get a rating (“don’t worry, they always get above 10/10,” Nelson reminds readers), it’s become much more in recent years. In 2020, WeRateDogs helped raise over $1.3 million for pets in need by resharing links to fundraisers—putting them over the $2 million mark for funds raised altogether.

“As soon as the account became popular, we started to receive GoFundMe campaigns from members of our audience who couldn’t afford their dog’s medical bills,” he explains how the charitable component started. Shortly after, WeRateDogs began sharing links to fundraisers each Friday.

WeRateDogs Matt Nelson with Willie one of many four legged friends

“We featured our first one in 2016, and it was met with overwhelming support. Since then, we’ve been committed to helping a dog in need every week and have raised over $2 million so far.”

In some ways, it’s not a surprise to see Nelson, now 25, channel his passion for dogs into a business; throughout his life, he always had an affinity for his four-legged besties.

“My family has always had Golden Retrievers. We never went more than a few months without!” he says, fondly remembering his childhood pal Zoey, who remains with his parents, along with a more recent addition, Sizzle. 

Today, he’s a proud doggo dad to a pooch of his own, who also just happens to be the “CEO” of WeRateDogs. “I adopted a now 11-year-old German Shepherd in late 2020. His name is Doug and he is my wonky-eared wolf baby,” he says of his BFF. “We also made him the CEO of WeRateDogs.”

WeRateDogs Social Post

Together, Nelson, Doug, and his team have gone beyond helping people and their pups on platforms like GoFundMe. Recognizing their capacity to help more dogs, they launched their own non-profit in 2020, aptly naming it the 15/10 Foundation. The name, of course, is a reference to their Twitter “ratings,” 15/10 being the highest rating awarded.

The charity focuses on dogs whose medical needs prevent them from being adopted and finding forever homes. The concept was inspired, in fact, by Doug. When Nelson adopted him, the senior dog was arthritic, suffered from ear infections, and didn’t get along well with other dogs. Had Nelson not adopted him, there is a good chance Doug wouldn’t have made it out of the shelter. 15/10 Foundation identifies and helps dogs like Doug by removing their financial hindrances to adoption via sponsorship, expediting their happily ever after. 

WeRateDogs Social Post

For Nelson, launching the foundation has been his proudest accomplishment so far. 

“We’ve spent years being exposed to the entire financial ecosystem of the pet world and found a gap in services that a passionate audience of dog lovers can fill,” he says.

As for what’s next, Nelson’s hope is to keep building the platform to do more good for dogs in need—but also keep the laughs coming on new platforms, like TikTok.

WeRateDogs Social Post

“We hope to continue entertaining in our usual ways. I’ve tiptoed into TikTok, which has been creatively fulfilling,” he says. “But our main focus going forward will be translating the power of an amazing community into an even more powerful force for good with the 15/10 Foundation.”

As for his future goals, Nelson is hopeful the WeRateDogs name will be known as a do-gooding platform for dogs around the world.

“We will most likely always be known as the ‘heckin 12/10 puppo’ account, but hopefully one day soon we can be more synonymous with rescue and adoption.”

This article originally appeared in the award-winning Modern Dog magazine. Subscribe today!



Utah is For Dog Lovers!

Imagine epic landscape, a red rock wonderland, wide-open skies, and places that take your breath away. That’s southwest Utah. Now imagine having a sleepover at Utah’s newest hotel with a rescue dog. Most everyone visiting southern Utah heads directly to Zion National Park but we’ll catch it on the way back—after a date with Best Friends Animal Rescue just outside Kanab. 

Kanab is known as a base camp for hikers: 80 miles south is the Grand Canyon, 70 miles east is Lake Powell, and 30 miles west is Zion. And five miles south is Best Friends. This extraordinary animal sanctuary—on 3,700 acres at stunning Angel Canyon—is so much more than an animal shelter. Best Friends rescues animals in crisis and nurses them back to health. Many end up being adopted, but if not, they are loved and provided for here in their forever home. 

It’s a haven and healing oasis to about 1,600 rescue animals, including dogs, cats, horses, and pigs. A few months ago we signed up to volunteer for the day at Dogtown, the area of the sanctuary that is dedicated to dogs. After a tour, you can make a dog happy by taking them for a walk on designated trails and help at feeding time. We were assigned to Steve Lee who quit his tech job of 20 years in 2013 and volunteered at Dogtown. Now employed by Best Friends, Steve’s job description includes making sure all his “kids” get along with group living. “For the first seven days, we put a dog in a run with another dog and if it doesn’t work we try another match. Sometimes a week or two later things deteriorate so I’m always observing their behaviour.”


I took Clyde, a big Pit Bull-cross, for a stroll. Then another. Then it was dinnertime—some dogs like Clyde are hand-fed, otherwise they will gulp down their food too fast. “Fur-kids come here from all walks of life,” said Lee. “Some people think this place is Doggie Disneyland but technically it’s an orphanage. Some dogs are depressed and others happy-go-lucky…” 

Bring tissues to Angels Rest and Angels Overlook. Beautiful and bittersweet, wind chimes serenade us as we visit the pet memorial and walk the meditation labyrinth. Amongst thousands of pet markers there’s a memorial to the dogs of Katrina (hundreds were rescued by Best Friends) and another to the dogs rescued from disgraced NFL player Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring, remembered as Victory Dogs. 

Most everywhere in Kanab is pet-friendly. And late this summer, Utah’s newest hotel opened for the dogs. “Best Friends Roadhouse & Mercantile” offers 40 rooms and 10 suites for guests—both human and canine. Services with sleepovers include built-in cubbies to snuggle, washing stations, pet walking areas, and a fenced-in water play park. Wait, there’s more! Guest rooms are outfitted with special fabrics and materials, pet introduction doors (a two-door entry that ensures the pet will not slip out),
room furnishings built 18 inches or higher to avoid pet entrapment or accidents, and pet mattresses in sleeping nooks. And should you wish to adopt your sleepover buddy, Best Friends will transport pets eligible for adoption to their new home in the US or Canada.

“Every year more than 30,000 travelers visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary,” said Brooks Bradbury, Best Friends Animal Society’s Director of Hospitality, in a press release. “These visitors need a lodging complex that will cater not only to them, but pets, too, including those who travel with their own furry companions and others who might be considering adopting from our Sanctuary.”


“Sleepovers are incredibly valuable, giving animals and humans that one-on-one experience. They are not strictly about adoption; they are also an [enriching experience] because we learn more about the animal in a home-like setting,” said Barbara Williamson of Best Friends. Sure, the dogs would love to continue their sleepover experience indefinitely, but Barbara reassures that when dogs are brought back to their current home at Best Friends and the caregivers and volunteers who love them, they aren’t traumatized. “It gives the dogs a break from group living and helps our adoption team find the right family for them. And many people want a sleepover before making the adoption decision.”

Before you consider a sleepover with a Best Friends dog, make sure your hotel room or vacation rental is onboard and animal-friendly. Next up, you need to have volunteered at least a half-day in Dogtown. Everyone in your group, including kids 10 and older can volunteer. As for dining, dogs are not eligible for patios, so go for delivery or take-out. 

The Roadhouse is also set to offer musical performances, videos, lectures and discussions, art fairs, farmers markets, yoga classes, and more, for both guests and the community. Revenue from the Roadhouse will support Best Friends’ efforts to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025. For reservations and further information, call 435.644.3400 or visit BestFriendsRoadhouse.com.

Puppies Rescued By Texas A&M ‘VET’ Team Provide Relief For Responders

While the Texas A&M University Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) has been deployed to a variety of locations along the Texas Coast in response to Hurricane Harvey, the rescued puppies receiving VET services have also served a dual role, providing “puppy therapy” for many of the responders.

“Over the course of our deployment, when we have rescued puppies that have been examined and treated and are awaiting transport to a shelter, we have often found that military personnel will just happen to stop by to chat with us, citing that they’ve heard we have puppies,” VET Public Information Officer Jennifer Gauntt said.

“These responders are on the front line, seeing the worst as they work in communities devastated by the storm. When they interact with these puppies, for a moment, they are able to forget all of the destruction, and occasionally death, they have encountered. The smiles that spread across their faces when they see and hold the puppies show us the powerful effect animals can have on people who have been working in the field.”

Studies have shown that exposure to pets can alleviate stress, reduce anxiety and depression and lower blood pressure in people. Sgt. Ty Wenglar, Texas A&M Class of ’96, Charlie Company 949 BSB, Texas Army National Guard, expressed his thanks to the VET team for providing much-needed relief.

“Puppies embody the very essence of what home is. They are always loving, always playful, always happy to see you. Most of us have now been away from home for almost two weeks, with the expectation of another week or more in the field,” Wenglar said. “Getting to play with Texas A&M VET’s puppies gave us all a brief respite from the relief effort and few moments of ‘home.’”

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