Every year, Petfood Industry magazine highlights some of the philanthropic efforts happening in pet food. From shelter pets to natural disasters, this year’s highlights show just how widespread the right company’s assistance can be — and the rewards of reaching out to those in need.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: the Fill a Bowl … Feed A Soul program
Chicken Soup for the Soul has always considered its brand to be that of a caretaker. Stories have been bringing love and inspiration to homes for more than 25 years, and the company has been providing premium pet food for more than 15 years.
“For the rescue community, we believe a happy, healthy pet is more readily adopted and that a healthy pet starts with good nutrition,” said Jeanne Blandford, director of marketing for Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet. “Our hope for these abandoned pets is to help create the fastest path possible to their forever home. For that reason, we started our Fill A Bowl … Feed A Soul (FABFAS) program in the fall of 2016. Our goal at that time was to donate 1 million meals annually to pets in need. To date, we have donated over 2.5 million meals nationwide!”
Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Fill A Bowl … Feed A Soul program aims to carry out the company’s belief that all pets should eat well, no matter what their circumstances. | Photo courtesy Greater Birmingham Humane Society
FABFAS was started in association with American Humane (AH) with the initial focus of disaster relief to areas affected by natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and fires.
“We aligned with AH in order to facilitate the delivery of free pet food to those who need it most, when they most need it,” said Blandford. “It is a perfect partnership. Our first delivery was 80,000 pounds to help feed animals displaced by floods in Louisiana in September of 2016. Since then, along with AH, we have delivered hundreds of thousands of pounds of pet food toward relief efforts in Florida (Hurricane Harvey), California (wildfires) and North Carolina (Florence), as well as to food pantries in the southern states.”
Obviously, the company’s impact has grown. Most recently, through Chicken Soup for the Soul, two groups, Michelson Found Animals Adopt & Shop in California and SpokAnimal C.A.R.E. in Washington, met and are not only sharing operations and programming ideas, but are exchanging specific pets in order to better match dogs and cats with the demographic needs in their own communities.
“We look forward to not only increasing our food donations annually, but to helping the rescue community bring more awareness to the important issues of adoption and good nutrition,” said Blandford. “After all, it’s all about helping these pets get healthy and then getting them into a loving home to live a long and happy life.”
Freshpet: the Fresh Start movement
Freshpet’s Fresh Start movement found its beginning spark in the story of a three-legged Pitbull named Princess. The survivor of a dog fighting ring, Princess was adopted by pet parent Kandi who saw past the trauma and into her rescue dog’s heart.
Princess is a three-legged Pitbull rescued from a dogfighting ring, and the original inspiration for Freshpet’s Fresh Start campaign. | Photo courtesy Freshpet
“There are countless dogs and cats in shelters across America today who get overlooked because they’re not ‘perfect’ — maybe because they came from a background of abuse or neglect, or struggle with a disability,” said Steven Elwell, director of digital marketing for Freshpet. “Something about those underdogs and cats really connected with us, and we felt like if we didn’t give them a voice, maybe no one would. Through the Fresh Start movement, Freshpet is able to provide these animals with a second chance at a happy, tail-wagging life and to erase the stigma often associated with shelter animals.”
Fresh Start is still in its first year, but so far things are going even better than expected.
“Freshpet invited the public to make a difference by sharing a video we produced featuring the stories of adopted pets like Princess, who have defied all odds and gone on to live their best lives,” said Elwell. “Besides awareness for the cause of overlooked shelter animals, the goal was to help the Animal Alliance of New Jersey build a rehabilitation wing to treat rescues from some of the hardest backgrounds imaginable. This is especially important to us because it means that even more dogs and cats get the attention they need to find their forever homes.
“Thanks to the dedication of our fans, the video was shared more than 75,000 times, which allowed us to reach our goal and help fund the new rehab wing,” said Elwell. “It’s currently being built, and it’s on schedule to be up and running by end of . Additional proceeds were able to go toward funding a life-saving surgery, comfortable beds and even more nutritious Freshpet food to rescue pets in need at the shelter.”
Petcurean: the 2018 northern British Columbia wildfires
Petcurean donated substantially last year to support the rescue efforts around the British Columbia wildfires, so once it was clear that the fires in 2018 were going to be equally, if not more, devastating and that people and their pets were going to be in need, the company immediately set the logistics of donation in motion.
Petcurean has been involved in wildfire relief efforts in the past, so when 2018 looked to provide similar wildfire devastation in British Columbia, Canada, the company leaped in to help. | Photo courtesy Petcurean
“The first thing we do is reach out to shelters and rescues who are taking in animals from the affected area,” said Christine Mallier, public and community relations manager for Petcurean. “Once we confirm that a shelter is interested and able to receive product, we ask them what type of food they need the most based on the types of animals they are taking in — dog vs. cat, wet food or dry food.
“We then begin coordinating the delivery logistics,” said Mallier. “We first check to see if we have a Petcurean pet specialty retail partner in the area of the shelter that can assist by taking receipt of the food, as our retail partners love to be part of our community support efforts. We then work with our local distributor that services that area to determine the fastest way possible of getting the food delivered — either via one of their regular delivery trucks if it is heading in that direction within a couple of days or scheduling a special freight delivery to get the donation there sooner. Once we have the timing of the delivery confirmed, we coordinate with the rescue to ensure that the roads are still accessible to get the food up to them. The rescue will then coordinate on their end to line up volunteers to help unload the food and distribute it.”
There’s a constant flow of communication among Petcurean, the rescue and the company’s distributor via phone, email and texts to get the food where it’s needed as quickly as possible.
But it’s not just wildfire relief Petcurean donates to. The company constantly turns its attention to fulfilling as many of the requests it receives for help as it can.
“This fiscal year, we’ll continue to build on our existing philanthropic initiatives, and have some new fun builds and surprises in the works — all with the goal of supporting pets in need and putting pets first,” said Mallier.
Why, as a pet food company, is it important to give back to your community?