The bond between pet owners and their pets has always been of primary concern to the pet food industry. Happy pets mean happy owners, and happy owners become loyal customers. Such synergy is vital to industry success, and pet food manufacturers are acknowledging that—and the love for pets inherent in making pet food—by giving back to the communities that keep them in business.
Canidae, for example, touts giving back to the pet community as something that has always been an important part of the company’s philosophy. “We are pet owners ourselves—the reason we started the Canidae brand was to provide healthy food for our own cats and dogs—and we’ve always stood by our motto, ‘Healthy People, Healthy Pets,'" said the company. “We’ve always been committed to treating pets as family members, and charity service is a natural extension of this practice. Our charity work has grown to be an important part of our culture.”
Canidae encourages employees to submit ideas for charitable work, and interested charities can contact the company directly. The service opportunities Canidae focuses on fall into alignment with the company’s philosophy. “We’re always interested in events and charities geared at pets and their owners, like 5K walks/runs, where they can enjoy fresh air, have fun or engage in some friendly competition,” said Canidae. “We’re also deeply passionate about supporting youth involvement in pet care. Educating young people about the proper care of animals and encouraging compassion is an important part of the future of pets in our communities.”
Projects Canidae has been a part of include supporting Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts helping homeless animals, an elementary school food drive for a local animal shelter, and 4H dog shows. Other groups close to the company’s heart are The Emma Zen Foundation, which provides pet oxygen masks free of charge to fire departments, and the Make a Wish Foundation’s Dog Ambassador Program, which provides dog-related animal wishes to children.
Merrick Pet Care also takes its corporate philosophy and applies it to service in the communities it’s a part of. “We believe pets deserve the best food ever to thrive and survive, and recognize there are many vulnerable pets most in need of a healthy, nutritious meal,” said Pete Brace, vice president of communications and pet parent relations for Merrick. “We partner with organizations who share the same philosophy for promoting the health and well-being of pets, from PAWS Chicago to Tree House Humane Society to K9s for Warriors for Merrick, and Austin Pets Alive and San Antonio Pets Alive for our Castor & Pollux brands.”
Courtesy Merrick Pet Care
Merrick is PAWS Chicago’s exclusive feeding partner, providing all meals to each resident cat and dog at both PAWS Chicago and PAWS Chicago North Shore.
According to Brace, in addition to formal partner relationships, the company has a culture of giving throughout the year. “For example, this past spring we donated 50,000 meals to 25 animal shelters and rescues across the country as part of our ‘Homeruns for Shelters’ social campaign held in conjunction with the start of baseball season,” he said. “We invited our Facebook community to nominate and vote on their favorite local shelters to receive a US$1,000 food donation, and during baseball home openers this past spring home teams racked up 25 total homeruns for a grand total US$25,000 in donations.”
This holiday season, Merrick is offering seasonal recipes that benefit the company’s partner organizations. “We’ve brought back our Forever Home canned dog food recipe—for every can of Forever Home purchased this holiday season a meal will be donated to PAWS Chicago, because every dog deserves a great meal, including homeless pets,” said Brace. “Also, we’re introducing a new can to support K9s for Warriors: Hero’s Banquet. For every can of Hero’s Banquet sold, we’ll make a donation to K9s for Warriors to help give a new ‘leash’ on life to rescue dogs and military heroes.”
Courtesy Merrick Pet Care
For the 2015 holiday season, Merrick is offering seasonal recipes that benefit PAWS Chicago and K9s for Warriors.
Solid Gold Pet’s employees play a significant role in the company’s service projects—so far in 2015 Solid Gold has donated more than US$650,000 in pet food to various charities and organizations recommended by company employees. The company’s foundation, Heart of Gold Legacy, is also a key driving factor. “Solid Gold’s founder, Sissy McGill, established Heart of Gold Legacy in December 2005 with the purpose of providing assistance to various organizations that promote the general welfare of animals,” said Jennifer Berglund, director of marketing for Solid Gold. “In addition to partnering with Solid Gold on the support of Warrior Canine Connection, Sissy McGill and her team at Heart of Gold Legacy have given financial contributions to more than 150 organizations that provide shelter and care to animals.”
Warrior Canine Connection is an organization particularly close to Solid Gold’s heart. “As a national non-profit organization, Warrior Canine Connection enlists recovering warriors in the therapeutic mission of training service dogs for their fellow veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI),” said Berglund. Based on the concept of warriors helping warriors, Warrior Canine Connection’s therapeutic service dog training program is designed to mitigate symptoms of PTSD and TBI, while providing injured combat veterans with a sense of purpose, help in reintegrating back into their families and communities, and a potential career path as a service dog trainer.
Courtesy Solid Gold Pet
Solid Gold supports the service dogs of Warrior Canine Connection by providing holistic pet nutrition. Warrior Canine Connection enlists recovering warriors in the therapeutic mission of training service dogs for their fellow veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
“The best part of our charity work is knowing that we can extend ourselves beyond merely selling products and create meaningful change in our world,” said Berglund. “At Warrior Canine Connection, one service dog helps more than 60 recovering warriors as he is raised, trained then paired with a veteran. It’s remarkable to see just how much one pet can affect the lives of others in such a positive manner.”
Wellness Natural Pet Food (WellPet) established the WellPet Foundation in 2007 “to support groups whose goals are similar to our own—helping pets live healthier, happier, longer lives,” said Chanda Leary Coutu, senior communications manager for WellPet. “The foundation is committed to giving back to the world we share with our pets by supporting organizations and activities dedicated to the well-being of dogs and cats.” WellPet and the foundation have a long joint history of helping animals in communities across the country, according to Coutu. "Helping pets in need is part of the Wellness 'All Ways Well' brand promise, which includes extending the nutritional benefits of Wellness Natural Pet Food to all pets," said Coutu.
Courtesy Wellness Natural Pet Food
The WellPet Foundation was extablished in 2007 to support groups whose goals are similar to WellPet’s—helping pets live healthier, happier, longer lives.
WellPet’s charitable work reaches many facets of the pet community. “In addition to national company programs, there are many local organizations that have captured the hearts of our employees and play important roles in the communities we share with our pets,” said Coutu. “By and large, the majority of our charitable and sponsorship activity takes place in the local communities where our employees live and work.” In February 2015, WellPet donated US$1.7 million in-kind of Wellness natural pet food to PetSmart Charities for distribution to five shelters in Arizona and Indiana serving pets in need. It was the largest-ever volume donation received by PetSmart Charities, and the single-largest donation by the WellPet Foundation.
Courtesy Wellness Natural Pet Food
In addition to national company programs, there are many local organizations that WellPet employees feel strongly about. The majority of the company’s charitable and sponsorship activity takes place in the local communities where employees live and work.
“We also have a strong ongoing relationship with the Jackson Galaxy Foundation,” said Coutu. “Jackson Galaxy, cat behaviorist and host of My Cat from Hell, launched his foundation to support pets in need and the people caring for them, and we were happy to be his first corporate sponsor by making monetary and food donations during the 2014 holiday season.”
The pet food industry has always been focused on the community it serves. But in the age of consumer awareness, giving back has become a business staple, and something the industry can be proud of supporting year-round.
Solid Gold Pet: Caitlyn’s story
Courtesy Solid Gold Pet
Caitlyn, a chocolate Staffordshire Bull Terrier, made national news in May 2015 when she was found with her muzzle taped shut with electrical tape. The Charleston Humane Society took her in and, with the help of donations, spearheaded the 15-month-old dog’s recovery from the abuse she suffered.
“When our employees heard Caitlyn’s story, we felt as a company a strong desire to do whatever we could to help,” said Jennifer Berglund, director of marketing for Solid Gold. “The shelter was in need of cat food donations, so we were happy to oblige.” Solid Gold donated the food to the shelter in honor of Caitlyn. According to Berglund, “Caitlyn was happy to accept the donation on behalf of her other furry friends at the animal shelter!”