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November 13, 2019

As the holidays approach, a majority of brands and companies in every industry encourage charitable contributions to go hand-in-hand with the “season of giving” mentality. However, the pet industry is not just encouraging this during the holiday season, it is embracing it year-round. And many resources, like those offered by the Pet Sustainability Coalition, are available to aid brands.

“The Coalition creates a platform for the pet industry to proactively address problems that are increasingly at the forefront of consumers’ minds: Where is it made, what is it made of and is it made responsibly?” said Caitlyn Dudas, executive director and co-founder of Pet Sustainability Coalition, in her profile for Pet Age’s 40 Under 40 in December 2015.

Pet Sustainability Coalition envisions a thriving and collaborative pet industry that creates positive impact for the communities and environments where business is done. That’s why its four core values—transparency, collaboration, authenticity and implementation focused—are at the forefront of its mission.

“PSC is creating an opportunity for successful values-led leaders to join together in a movement of businesses acting as a force for good in the world,” Dudas added in her profile for receiving Pet Age’s Vanguard Award in December 2018.

Many brands, whether now or at their inception, are focusing on efforts to give back to their communities and pets in need. Whether through donations, promotions or partnerships, the message is the same: A meaningful mission to do charitable campaigns benefits the company, the environment, consumers and, most importantly, pets.

Solo Campaigns

Fluff & Tuff started in 2010 to create a line of plush pet toys with elevated designs made with high-quality, ultra-plush fabrics and liners for durability. And from the beginning, it established a reputation for giving back to the community with product donations to support raffles and events. Over time, that grew to something more.

“We’d receive hundreds of photographs from pet parents of their happy dogs with our toys, and I wanted to find a way to spread that joy to other dogs in need,” said Ellen Lawson, owner of Fluff & Tuff. “In 2015, we created our social media donation campaign #igiveafluff to give toys to dogs waiting for their forever homes.”

Every June, for each photo posted on social media with a Fluff & Tuff toy and tagged #igiveafluff, the company donates a toy to a shelter/rescue dog.

“We have donated over 4,000 toys throughout the U.S. to needy dogs from this campaign alone,” Lawson said.

Fluff & Tuff offers other charitable campaigns, such as the Holiday Charity Toy. Each holiday season since 2013, the company designs a unique, limited-edition toy and donates 100 percent of the profits to a variety of animal-related charities. This year, Fluff & Tuff is committing donations from its Good Dog Bone—2019’s Holiday Charity Toy—to needy shelters and rescues to provide food for their dogs. Each Good Dog Bone sold will provide 16 meals.

Lawson believes that no matter how a brand decides to give back, the most important thing is being passionate about it. Because customers will know if brands are being genuine or trying to check a box. So Fluff & Tuff finds passion in its own charitable campaigns, with the support of its retail partners and customers, to assist as many organizations and causes as possible.

“As a smaller company ourselves, our focus has always been on those organizations in which our donation will make a significant impact for them,” Lawson explained. “Our goal is to make a big difference for small organizations who are committed to helping animals in need.”

Partnership: Adoptions

Purina Fancy Feast has been delighting cats’ taste buds since 1982, creating and crafting unique taste experiences. Every recipe is thoughtfully prepared with carefully selected ingredients and culinary craftsmanship down to the smallest detail. So every year for the holidays, Fancy Feast celebrates all things cat during the season of giving with Feastivities and creates a unique, crafted ornament for purchase. And since 2011, Purina has been giving all the proceeds from sales of the ornaments to Adopt-A-Pet.

“With every ornament purchase, you’re helping give back to pets in need—it’s a win-win for all,” said Katia Delgado, senior brand manager at Purina Fancy Feast. “To date, we’ve raised more than $230,000 for Adopt-A-Pet, and we are excited to continue the tradition with our 2019 ornament.”

Adopt-A-Pet is the largest nonprofit pet adoption website in the United States that prides itself on developing groundbreaking solutions to animal welfare problems and truly influencing positive change for companion animals. Its innovations—like Rehome, a peer-to-peer pet adoption platform—are geared toward keeping pets out of shelters and in loving homes, especially since it sees that the vast majority of pets in shelters are there because their owners could no longer care for them and didn’t know where else to turn. Having supporters helps keep this mission and more possible.

“When we build partnerships, we look for brands that truly ‘get’ animal welfare and genuinely care as much as we do about our cause,” said Dana Puglisi, director of marketing and communications for Adopt-A-Pet. “Without programs like this one with Fancy Feast and without the support of Purina, who is a major funder of the work Adopt-A-Pet does, we would not be able to save the lives of animals.”

Purina Fancy Feast believes that cats and people are better together and chose Adopt-A-Pet because it is dedicated to finding great homes for all pets, including cats. And the success of Feastivities has led both Adopt-A-Pet and Purina to further encourage the efforts of collaboration for the ultimate goal surrounding pets.

“Seek out partnerships that bring to life what your company stands for. Partnering with a nonprofit organization needs to come from the genuine desire to give back to the community,” Delgado advises.

“When you truly listen and assume absolutely nothing, you are likely to find hidden opportunities to create mutual value and see far bigger wins than you ever anticipated,” Puglisi added. “With the support of incredible sponsors like Purina, we’re helping millions of good people find great pets to adopt in their local communities. Our synergy has resulted in collaborative focus on programs and initiatives that actually move the needle on our goals for animals.”

Pure and Natural Pet creates grooming and wellness products that are ingredient focused and safe for pets, families and the environment. As members of the Organic Trade Association and Pet Sustainability Coalition, it proactively promotes legislation for organic farming and animal safety. But when the company was looking to partner with a rescue group, it wanted one that aided veterans because it was another factor that mattered significantly to the brand. When it met Paws for Life K9 Rescue at SuperZoo three years ago, the connection was immediate.

“We were looking for a high-quality, natural shampoo for our rescue dogs; they were looking for a nonprofit that helped our military vets. It was a perfect combination,” said Alex Tonner, president and founder of Paws for Life K9 Rescue.

Paws for Life K9 Rescue got started with a broad vision to rescue animals that are often left behind in high-intake, high-kill shelters. With the thought to train dogs to make them more adoptable, it created a program within the California prison system that pairs dogs with incarcerated trainer program participants. It then finds them safe and loving forever homes, especially with military veterans suffering from PTSD because many of the dogs are trained in the prisons to be service dogs.

“As with any small nonprofit, we are limited by funding to provide the best possible products available to our animals. Pure and Natural Pet has alleviated that concern by donating an array of high-quality products to make our dogs happy and healthy,” Tonner said.

Additionally, Pure and Natural Pet also has a product, Paw Rescue, under its BOGO program. For every one that is bought, one is donated to the rescue. Pure and Natural Pet also has the rescue at their booth at trade shows like SuperZoo and Global Pet Expo to talk about its programs and bring in additional donors and sponsors. The company has also promoted the rescue on its website, newsletters and social media posts.

“This program is life-changing on so many levels. I even adopted one of the dogs they rescued from Hurricane Harvey,” explained Julie Creed, VP of sales and marketing for Pure and Natural Pet. “We have emotional letters from inmates that tell us how our products have helped dogs that suffer from skin conditions and have healed pups with damaged or sensitive paws. Partnering with Paws for Life K9 Rescue has helped us all be better people.”

Because of the successful and meaningful partnership, Pure and Natural Pet and Paws for Life K9 Rescue want others to take a similar journey.

“You are more likely to mutually benefit from the relationship if you find a partnership with the same passion and energy that your organization possesses. It is a learning and growing experience that greatly benefits both partners,” Tonner explained.

“Giving back is important. [But] don’t just ‘me too’ for the sake of creating charity. Have it be meaningful and make a difference,” Creed added.

Partnership: Environment and Pets

Gold Paw Series started over 20 years ago making blankets for horses and dogs, eventually growing to primarily focus on the lives of dogs due to popular demand. The company uses materials that are 100 percent plant based and derived from cassava root, making them certifiably marine biodegradable.

“Our goal is always to tick every box, so to speak—sizing for every dog, pricing that is affordable, supply chains that support people, styles that excite consumers’ hearts and eyes and serious efforts to protect the planet,” said Rebecca Gadd, CEO of Gold Paw Series.

In its commitment to finding new ways to reduce the impact of products on the environment and help protect the planet, Gold Paw Series teamed up with 1% for the Planet in August 2017.

“We love that this global movement connects businesses, individuals and nonprofits, empowering all to drive a big, positive change,” Gadd stated.

Started in 2002, 1% for the Planet is a global organization that connects dollars and doers to accelerate smart environmental giving. To date, its members have given more than $225 million to environmental nonprofits.

“We advise on giving strategies, we certify donations, and we amplify the impact of our network,” said Allyson Bartlett, brand manager for 1% for the Planet. “Gold Paw Series helps to grow our global movement and address the urgent environmental issues of our time.”

Gold Paw Series supports the following 1% for the Planet-approved nonprofit partners: Working for Dogs Conservation, Friends of Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and The Eden Projects. This is the second year Gold Paw has partnered with The Eden Projects, which has been reducing extreme poverty and restoring healthy forests by employing local villagers to plant millions of trees since 2004.

“We are setting a goal of planting 1 million trees by January 2022. We’ve planted 176,500 trees with our partnership so far. It’s very rewarding knowing that we’re able to make a difference and help our planet!” Gadd exclaimed.

“Gold Paw Series exemplifies that any business can commit to creating a healthier future,” added Bartlett. “[So] we help Gold Paw Series gain credibility and visibility through our certification process, and we connect them with a community of like-minded individuals and businesses.”

The partnership has led both Gold Paw Series and 1% for the Planet to remind businesses and consumers on the importance of both pets and the planet.

“If you’re looking for a way to make a difference, the simple solution is to start immediately,” Bartlett said.

“There’s no such thing as too big or too small—everyone can make a difference!” Gadd added.

Healers PetCare started when its president, Terri Entler, engineered medical dog boots with gauze inserts to help her dog heal after it was injured. Since then, the company has developed numerous pet health products, including those from Dr. Whitherspoon’s Healing Tree line and a product with turmeric from Costa Rica. And how Entler got involved with Costa Rican turmeric actually started back in high school.

“Jennifer [Long] and I were best friends in high school. I knew about her farm in Costa Rica, so we were talking at our high school reunion and she said, ‘We need to do business together, turmeric is so good for pets,’” Entler said.

Long, business owner and CEO of Biolley Farms, talked about how her dog, Hunter, was bit by a pit viper snake with hemotoxic poison that eats flesh. Nothing worked to address the wound, and it continued to grow larger and larger.

Applying the turmeric from her farm healed the wound and saved her dog’s life. This led to their collaboration on the new Golden Turmeric Paste. But not only does this product help pets suffering from injuries, aches and pains and more, it also benefits and helps Costa Rican farmers and the rainforest.

“The more nature we save, the more animals that exist are living healthy, and the more poor economies that are land rich can earn a living and take part in conservation that ultimately affects the planet’s health, our health. This in the end affects me and how I live with the people and pets around me,” Long explained.

Long bought Biolley Farms with her husband in 2008, regenerating it and implementing methods, like bio-intensive farming and permaculture, to better utilize the natural resources in a sustainable way. This resulted in the farms to have fresh, fertile soil for the best medicinal and nutritional crops. And since it is located in one of the poorest regions in Southern Costa Rica, the farms also provide educational opportunities for local Costa Rican farmers so they can learn the best ways to cultivate the land and earn a profit to live and support their families. This is what inspired Entler and Long to join forces and encourage further collaboration.

“There’s a synergy. It’s a way to give back. We’re also doing a disaster relief kit with Michelson Found Animals Foundation. By having these strategic relationships, we create a synergy to help each other. It’s a win-win for everybody, especially for the pets!” Entler emphasized.

“Work together for a common cause for good. Keep integrity intact at all times, stay transparent and grow ‘organically’ together. We seek the right partners for the right reasons—overall, that is to provide true prosperity for the planet, people, pets and wildlife,” Long concluded.

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