Designated Dawgs is a student charity busy helping UGA and Athens stay safe

Downtown Athens, Georgia

Designated Dawgs is a nonprofit organization operated by students of the University of Georgia. The organization offers no cost, non-judgmental and safe rides back home from the downtown Athens area on selected, usually high traffic, Thursday and Friday nights during the fall and spring semesters of each college year. Designated Dawgs operates by means of its student volunteers, business and community partners.

The story of the history of Designated Dawgs at UGA goes back several years. It was developed at the University of Georgia by former student, Tim McNary. In an effort to address and help solve the difficulties college students in Athens face in getting home safely after a night out, socializing in downtown Athens. In the days before Uber and Lyft reports of assaults, muggings, and drunk driving incidents, motivated Tim to do something to help the community and his fellow UGA students.

Designated Dawgs is based upon a similar program at Texas A&M University called CARPOOL. It was at A&M that CARPOOL became the first collegiate safe ride program run solely by student volunteers. Texas A&M alum, Jeff Schiefelbein, developed the concept of CARPOOL after he was convicted of a DUI offense in the late 1990’s, He was profoundly effected by a Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim impact panel, at which he heard the story of a deaths as a result of drunk driving. His experienced inspired him to create a safe ride home for college students to address the issue of DUI prevention.

As reported in a story recently in the Red and Black, there were 368 alcohol-impaired fatalities in Georgia in 2016, according to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, and Athens-Clarke County was among the top counties in per capita DUI incidents according to the Georgia Department of Public Safety’s 2016 annual report.

Designated Dawgs is helping to address safe rides and related issue through volunteer student efforts. Current UGA student Embyrlee Sago, a junior from Kennesaw, Georgia, said Designated Dawgs is a way to ensure students use their resources to get home, as drunk driving is such an issue.

“We just want to make sure that you get home safely and that you feel comfortable enough to get that ride home,” Sago said.

Ms. Sago got involved in Designated Dawgs as a volunteer and will serve as and excutive with the charity acting as vice president of finance in the upcoming semester. According to the Red & Black, Ms. Sago was motivated to move up to an executive position in Designated Dawgs after a close friend died after being involved in a drunk driving accident in January.

Designated Dawgs bases operations right outside of the Wells Fargo Building on College Avenue. Rides are offered roughly from 11 p.m. to 2:15 a.m This group is familiar with the reality that there can be many factors in whether a student may need help with a safe ride home after an evenings festivities in Downtown Athens, Georgia.

Sago said reasons students may need a lift can vary from not being able to afford an Uber to not being sure they can safely find the way home. Designated Dawgs is not interested in the age of its riders and doesn’t check its riders’ identification they just want students to get safely home.

Designated Dawgs has consitently been recognized for outstanding achievement by the University of Georgia. Designated Dawgs has received the following awards from the Student Organization Achievement and Recognition Awards:

2016-2017: Outstanding Service to the Community

2015-2016: Outstanding Service to the Community

2010-2011: Outstanding Service to the Community

2009-2010: Outstanding Service to the Community

Designated Dawgs operates on select evenings and the schedule for the nights they will be able to offer rides can be found on their website.