I’ve received countless emails from members of the pet industry regarding their responses to the daily struggles that pet owners and healthcare workers have been experiencing.
Countless manufacturers are doing their part, including MiracleCorp, which partnered with Buckeye Vodka and Dayton Freight to produce thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer that were donated to local hospitals, food banks and first responders across Ohio. ClawGuard shifted its manufacturing priorities from pet products to produce 100,000 FDA-certified, healthcare-grade productive face shields per week. Meanwhile, Stella & Chewy’s donated more than half a million dollars’ worth of pet food to the ASPCA to assist pets and their owners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why do these members of the pet industry do what they do?
I contacted Rachael Ray, who donated $4 million in addition to her pet food partner, Nutrish, giving four million meals to companion animals and people in need. This is what she told me.
“Many families are experiencing financial strain due to the COVID-19 crisis and struggling to feed their families, including their four-legged members. [Her husband] John and I don’t have human children so these donations, which have been split equally between humans and animals, is how we give back. Our business model has always included the creation of products that could be used as vehicles to fund the things we care about. In moments like this, that strategy becomes very clear. I never wanted to ask people to donate to the philanthropies I personally care about, so this is how we do it.
“Half of the $4 million we’ve donated comes from the Rachael Ray Foundation to support the shelter system throughout the U.S. and the animals there that are in need of care, medical attention, food and a forever home… On top of this, the four million meals that my pet food partners at Rachael Ray Nutrish pledged to donate through GreaterGood.org and World Central Kitchen will provide families with access to food and treats for both their dogs and their cats.”
It’s important that the pet industry lets the pet-owning public know they’re not alone during the pandemic. Lindsey Rabaut, VP of Marketing for I and love and you, explains that the brand communicates with consumers via its social feed, newsletter and blog.
“We believe that pets are people too, so that is what we show in our content… At a time when the world needs a few smiles, sharing silly pictures and videos of your fur-babies has never been more important. Pets have proven to be a constant source of pure joy, and we need that now more than ever.”
I can’t end this letter without mentioning the great loss that the aquatic hobby has experienced with the passing of Robert “Bob” Fenner on May 7. I had the honor of working with Fenner—a writer and underwater photographer—at a consumer publication, and saw him at several aquatic shows. Fenner was a true pioneer of the marine aquarium hobby. I admired him not only for his aquatic knowledge but also for his free-spirited nature. Anyone who met him can assure you they walked away better for the experience. He was beloved by countless members of the aquarium hobby and will be sorely missed.
(Editor’s note: On May 21, Rachael Ray made the following announcement on Instagram: “Our beloved Isaboo passed today in her backyard in the sun in the Adirondack Mountains in New York. In our arms. Peacefully.” Pet Age would like to express our sincere condolences to Rachael and John, and our hearts go out to them in this time of sorrow.)