November 1, 2014

November is such a fantastic month. People are always giving back to one another and helping those less fortunate this time of the year. In fact, pet companies have started giving back to animals that have had unfortunate circumstances.

For instance, finding pets loving homes can be tricky. A lot of pet product companies want to help.

Litter for All

First, Fresh Step cat litter has kicked off its Million Meow Mission to help cats find homes.

The Fresh Step Paw Point loyalty program will allow Paw Point members to donate their points to the shelter of their choice. That shelter can then redeem the points for free litter, cat toys and any other necessities.

“We have been amazed by the support of our community in the short time since the campaign launched in September,” said Shekinah Eliassen, brand manager at Fresh Step.

Fresh Step is also donating 1 million scoops of litter along with members who donate their points.

Retailers can also help.

“Retailers can encourage customers to sign up for the Paw Points program and visit freshstep.com to learn more about how to get involved in the Million Meow Mission,” said Eliassen.

According to Eliassen, Fresh Step will also host the third annual Catdance Film Festival which will honor the best original scripted short films about cats and shines a spotlight on shelter cats.

Buy One, Give One

DOG for DOG lives up to the company name by encouraging dog owners to buy a bag of food or treats by in turn, donating another bag to a dog in need.
DOG for DOG’s founder, Rocky Kanaka, got the idea by running pet stores in Los Angeles that were doing rescues outside the stores.

“What started out as a very exciting event where all the employees and customers were really excited started becoming really disheartening for me because we weren’t able to help as many dogs as we wanted to,” said Kanaka.

He wanted to do more.

“I know it isn’t always convenient to give,” he said. “If we could just make it convenient, where any time you just bought an item, whether it is a bag of food or any DOG for DOG branded item, we would donate that same amount to dogs. More people would give back.”

Kanaka then began making treats in his pet store bakery and it really took off from there.

“As you can imagine, anytime a company sells something and then gives it away, it’s not an easy business model,” he said.
According to Kanaka, well-known people began getting involved. He began getting celebrity investors who believed in the company and wanted to be a part of it.

“It’s very simple at its core,” said Kanaka. “If you buy a bag of food, we donate that same amount of food. If you buy a bag of treats, same thing. Coming very soon there will be toys and leashes and collars and clothing and anytime you buy one of those, a meal will go to a dog in need.”

According to Kanaka, this all happens locally. Any retailer that carries DOG for DOG products is working with a local rescue group and the donation goes directly there.

“It’s really phenomenal because then you’re able to make an impact on a local level by simply making a purchase at your local pet store,” he said. “We are trying to affect change in all rescues.”

DOG for DOG makes a direct impact by going through the retailer, and most often, it is in the local community.

“As a retail customer, you are always looking for something that’s unique but also something that customers are asking for,” said Kanaka. “For the first time ever, that is something that DOG for DOG is able to provide. Customers are asking for it because rescue groups are sending them into stores to purchase the product so they can get the donation product.”

“It’s still unique to your store,” he said. “Every pet store in the whole world could carry DOG for DOG but it’s still unique to your store because it’s affecting the rescue group that you’re working with.”

More companies want to help dogs find their forever homes quickly.

Be Pawsitive is a dog treat company that provides dog treats to customers and gives back to animal shelters to help get dogs ready for forever homes.
After reading Blake Mycoskie’s book “Start Something That Matters,” Travis Watson, owner of Be Pawsitive, felt encouraged to adapt the same business model as Toms Shoes. After finding a dog in the park, Watson decided to adopt her if no one claimed her and got to see the adoption process first hand.

“I wanted to do something to help and after seeing how shelters rely pretty heavily on donations and volunteers, I decided to build a company that would be able to donate a product to help those shelters get more dogs adopted,” said Watson. “The buy one, give one model fit perfectly.”

“Each bag of treats sold provides treats that we donate to shelters and rescues all over the country,” said Watson. “Customers get amazing treats for their dog(s) and get to give back to help shelter and rescue dogs at the same time. Our treats are USDA certified organic, made right here in the USA, wheat free, oven baked in small batches for quality control and we have eight fun and unique flavors that dogs love.”

According to Watson, each bag of treats sold provides treats for dogs that Be Pawsitive donates.

“Like Toms Shoes for dog treats,” he said. “We donate the same high quality treats to shelters that customers give to their dogs. I believe that people want to help out so Be Pawsitive makes it really easy for people to make a difference by just purchasing a bag of treats for their own dog.”
Shelters use Be Pawsitive treats during obedience training.

“A dog that is leash trained and has gone through some obedience training has a higher likelihood of being adopted,” said Watson.

Another way shelters use treats is giving them to potential adopters as a way to break the ice when they first meet new dogs. Be Pawsitive also offers a monthly subscription treat box as a way for customers to get new flavors delivered every month.

“Dogs are so loving by nature, sometimes they just need to understand that a person is there to help not hurt in order for their true personality to come out,” said Watson.

Customers also have a say in what shelter Be Pawsitive donates treats.

“About 90 percent of the shelters/rescue organizations that we have donated treat to have been customer referrals,” said Watson. “That means that when you buy a bag of treats you can help out the shelter in your community or even the shelter you rescued your own dog from just by recommending them on the checkout page.”

Be Pawsitive has already donated close to 20,000 treats from sales online.

“As we grow, look for us to show up in boutique pet stores and natural food retailers across the country,” said Watson.

Helping Find Forever Homes

When it comes to promoting pet adoptions, Halo, Purely for Pets supports it in three ways.

The first is providing food donations. Halo, Purely for Pets partners with Freekibble.com and Greatergood.com to donate more than 1.5 million meals to shelter pets each year.

“These donations are made through individual donations, special events and our annual Holiday Kibble Drop, where we deliver food to the shelters and rescues in 8 to 10 cities,” said David Yaskulka, vice president of marketing communications. “We partner with retailers in many of the cities where we pre-select a group of rescues and shelters to come and pick up the donations.”

That isn’t the only retail-oriented step they take.

“We work with the retailer to make an exciting event out of it, with specials for customers, media coverage, celebrations and more,” said Yaskulka.

Halo, Purely for pets already knows they are making a difference.

“Donations of Halo food provide homeless pets the highest quality food possible, helping shelter pets look and feel their best, sometimes helping them find their forever homes,” said Yaskulka. “In fact, in a survey of 85 shelter professionals, 75 percent said the quality of Halo Spot’s Stew ‘definitely helps’ dogs and cats to get adopted.”

The second thing Halo does is sponsor efforts to showcase and promote adoption and work that shelters do for pets.

According to Yaskulka, Halo and filmmaker Peter McEvilley and the Olate Dogs, produces a series of short films to promote rescue and adoption.

“The first of the series, ‘Le Sauvetage’ (The Rescue) is a magical tale about life, love, and finding our true destiny…with a little help from a furry friend,” said Yaskulka.

Sponsored and produced by Halo, Purely for Pets, “Le Sauvetage” opened the Sonoma Film Festival in April 2014 and appeared at the Court Metrage, Festival de Cannes in France in May 2014. The next film in the series, “Dog’s Best Friend,” premieres in October 2014.

Third, Halo supports the tools that can help shelters do their best work.

“Halo recognizes that shelters and rescues are short on resources and time,” said Yaskulka. “Because of this, we work to support efforts that help shelters do their work better, faster and more effectively.”

An example of this is the recent announcement by Halo about Loveanimals.org, their non-profit crowdfunding site dedicated to animal-related projects.

“We’ve also supported Adoptashelter.com, a website that allows online shoppers to designate a portion of their purchase to the shelter or rescue of their choice,” said Yaskulka.

Retailers can also help with Halo’s many philanthropic programs.

“Halo loves to partner with retailers on philanthropic efforts,” said Yaskulka. “We organize the Holiday Kibble Drop but also collaborate with retailers on many smaller, local philanthropic efforts throughout the year. We’re always open to new ideas and ways to help our retailers support their communities!”

Dogs Partnering with People

Planet Dog, on the other hand, helps create a bond between dogs and their owners.

Planet Dog has a foundation that provides cash grants and product donations to nonprofit organizations across the country.
“Planet Dog donates 2 percent of every sale to the Planet Dog Foundation (PDF), our non-profit arm,” said Kristen Smith, brand ambassador at Planet Dog and executive director of the Planet Dog Foundation. “PDF funds service and assistance dog programs, therapy dog programs, animal assisted therapy, K9 search and rescue programs, police, fire and military dogs.

So how does it work?

According to Smith, PDF awards grants non-profit organizations through a competitive grant process.

“Organizations complete an application that is reviewed by our panel,” she said. “We strive to fund established programs that use positive methodology and train to a rigorous standard, while also demonstrating strong fiscal management, demonstrated success, measurable outcomes and the potential to positively impact multiple populations, for example, a program that rescues dogs from shelters, and then uses at-risk youth to train them to become a service dog for a person with a disability would be an ideal program.”

Smith is thankful to retailers as well as customers who help fund the foundation.

“Retailers should be proud to carry Planet Dog products in their stores, knowing that we give 2 percent of our gross sales to support working dogs” said Smith. “Our giving percentage is not only the highest in the pet industry but one of the highest percentages in the country across all industries.”
Planet Dog has given away more than $1 million since 2006.

“We are well on our way to the next million dollars,” said Smith. “We have supported thousands of dogs partnering with people in need and can only do it with the steadfast support of our retailers. We are incredibly grateful for the retailers who help us tell our story and allow us to give so much back!”

Giving Back to the Earth

Boyd Enterprises supports the Coral Restoration Foundation Inc., which is a non-profit conservation organization created to develop off-shore coral nurseries and reef restoration programs for critically endangered coral reefs at local, national and international levels.

Jeff Turner, president of Boyd Enterprises got involved with the foundation three years ago as a sponsor. He had known Coral Restoration Foundation president Ken Nedimyer when he built an aquarium for an endangered coral Nedimyer was growing.

“He ended up starting the foundation and I got involved,” he said. “In the beginning, when we first acquired Boyd Enterprises, I thought that we needed to be engaged in supporting and giving back to Coral Reef Restoration.”

Turner has since joined the board of directors at the foundation and has been working on helping with the business development.

In 2011, Boyd sponsored a coral planting at Molasses Reef.

“We were one of the first reef sponsors for Coral Restoration Foundation in the aquarium trade,” said Turner. “It’s been quite an interesting couple of years.”

Turner interviews staff and new hires and helps the organization because he believes in it.

“I look at this great little not for profit that is doing a great job planting corals on the reef and restoring reefs and it’s exciting,” said Turner.

According to him, the foundation is still seeing a lot of support within the pet trade. The WPA has supported it along with other aquarium companies.
“Sometimes we get looked at in a negative manner,” said Turner. “People think we are taking everything from the reef but really Boyd Enterprises focuses on supporting aquatic initiatives that help with coral reef conservation.”

The Retailer Effect

Lastly, retailers can give back simply by carrying specific displays and products.

Mars Fishcare offered a display for retailers designed specifically for the Jessica Rekos Foundation.

Jessica Rekos was six years old when she and 19 other classmates were tragically murdered in the Sandy Hook School shootings. The Jessica Rekos Foundation was established by her parents to preserve the memory of Jessica and her two loves: whales and horses.

Mars Fishcare will donate 100 percent of the profits from this display to the Jessica Rekos Foundation, which will earmark the funds raised for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s internship program. This program will pay for students to gain experience in the WDC’s living laboratory.
The display was sold to the independent pet trade this summer and was shipped this fall.

“We were taking the display, offering it at discount to our retailers, then taking all our profits and making a donation to the charity,” said Noah Rossell, territory manager at Mars Fishcare.

According to Rossell, Mars Fishcare raised more than $6,000 for the foundation.

The API display consists of essential treatments to help aquarium hobbyists maintain clean and healthy active fish with flagship aquarium water treatments.

“It’s basically a core selection of some of our most popular products,” said Rossell.

Rossell is hopeful that this will also drive traffic to the foundation website.

“It’s a good thing to do to make people aware of a good cause,” he said. “This is so the community can give back, remember her and remember the tragic events that happened and hopefully do a little good.”

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