The concept of Designated Dawgs was developed at the University of Georgia by Tim McNary. As a former student at UGA, McNary became aware of the difficulties students in Athens faced in getting home safely after a night out, whether socializing or studying. Bothered by constant stories in the Red and Black about late-night drunken driving incidents, rapes and muggings, he became determined to do something to help the community and his fellow students.
In 2000, McNary and his friend, Carl Fleming, began to research how to implement a designated driver program at UGA. Designated Dawgs is modeled after a similar program called CARPOOL at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. CARPOOL is the first collegiate safe ride program run solely by student volunteers. Texas A&M alum Jeff Schiefelbein developed the concept of CARPOOL when he received a DUI in 1997. After losing his license and doing 60 hours of community service, Schiefelbein was required to appear at a Mother’s Against Drunken driving Victim Impact panel, at which he heard the story of a woman and her daughter’s death in high school. This event inspired him to create the best designated driving program in the world.
McNary and Fleming traveled to College Station to witness the CARPOOL program firsthand. Confident that a similar safe ride program would be successful at UGA, they began plans to introduce a safe ride program to the Athens community. McNary and Fleming chose to name the program WatchDawgs, Inc. After much planning and hard work, WatchDawgs gave its first ride on Jan. 11, 2001.
In 2009, the executive board of WatchDawgs voted to change the name of the organization in order to Designated Dawgs, a name which more clearly communicates the services provided by the organization.
The Center for Student Organizations at the University of Georgia annually solicits nominations of individuals and student organizations for the Student Organization Achievement and Recognition Awards (S.O.A.R. Awards). 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
2003-2004: Organization of the Year (Watchdawgs, now Designated Dawgs)
2002-2003: Outstanding Service to the Community (Watchdawgs, now Designated Dawgs)