Pet companies look to connect with charitable endeavors

Learn about some of the pet food companies’ philanthropic endeavors in the last year.

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Philanthropy and the pet food industry are a partnership no-brainer: There are many organizations out there that focus on animals and could use some help, and plenty of pet food companies who want to connect with their communities and do some good when it comes to both animals and the people who love them. Below are three companies involved in pet food that have worked hard to ensure their culture involves a healthy dose of giving back.

Bil-Jac finds a personal connection in America’s VetDogs

Bil-Jac, a superpremium dog food company, was founded by those who believed that giving back is a key part of a company’s (and the people behind said company) responsibility to those around them. With that in mind, the company has always had an eye toward charitable opportunities, but the partnership with America’s VetDogs is, according to Bil-Jac President Bill Kelly, “our most profound partnership to date,” in part because of the personal connection between the organization’s goals and the founders’ lives before they started Bil-Jac after World War II.


Bil Jac AvdVetDogs graduate and Navy Corpsman Joe Worley and his first assistance dog Benjamin make an appearance on Bil-Jac’s Skin & Coat Treats, the sales of which contribute to furthering America’s VetDog’s mission.| Photo courtesy Bil-Jac

 

“America’s VetDogs unites two things that are very near and dear to our hearts — dogs and veterans," said Kelly. "Bill and Jack Kelly, as well as their sister Gene, all served in the military during World War II. Bill and Jack started Bil-Jac after the war. Bill was still alive when we started working with America’s VetDogs, and he felt it was one of the most important things we could do to give back."

The partnership is built around special Bil-Jac dog treats sold to help raise money to further the organization's efforts, which Include providing service dogs to veterans and first responders.

"We started with America's VetDogs Skin & Coat Treats," said Kelly. "[In 2020], Bil-Jac introduced America’s VetDogs Training Treat, which bears the emblem 'Official Training Treat of America’s VetDogs,' to provide a high-value reward that trainers at America's VetDogs could use while teaching the dogs specific skills and pet parents could use when training their best friends."

The success of the partnership so far has led to Bil-Jac making the largest donation to an organization in the company's 74-year history.

"We’re very grateful for the support of our retailers and pet parents who buy the treats," said Kelly. "After having donated US$1.25 million, we especially look forward to continuing our work with America’s VetDogs to impact even more veterans and first responders. It’s been a privilege to watch the organization grow and help so many veterans throughout the years. We also know the need is still great and we have only just begun."

Champion Petfoods wants to help pets find forever homes with Best Friends Animal Society

With a stated purpose to "earn pet lover trust every day so pets thrive for a lifetime," premium pet food company Champion Petfoods has always considered supporting rescue organizations to be an important part of company culture.


Champion Petfoods Second ChanceGiving back is a key component of Champion Petfoods' mission, and the company donates to many rescue organizations. Pictured: a $10,000 donation to Second Chance Animal Rescue Society at the end of 2020. | Photo Courtesy Champion Petfoods

 

"Our philanthropic efforts go hand-in-hand with our purpose,” said Molly Keveney, company spokesperson. “We believe we need to give back where we can make the strongest impact. Our belief is giving back is everyone’s responsibility, and together we’ll be able to contribute to a brighter, healthier world for pets and pet lovers.”

This ideology made Best Friends Animal Society a perfect match for a partnership.

"We had been looking to collaborate with a like-minded partner and the opportunity to become the official pet food sponsor of Best Friends came at the perfect time,” said Keveney. “Their values align with our own. Best Friends works with a network of over 3,300 animal shelters across the country, and our sponsorship will feed 2.5 million meals to dogs and cats in their Lifesaving Centers each year. That’s equal to more than US$1 million worth of donated pet food annually to help the organization.”

Alongside Best Friends, Champion Petfoods supports 40 long-term rescues in Canada and the U.S., all of which are located in the local communities where the company’s kitchens are located.

“By nourishing pets that are cared for by these rescues we have helped contribute to the pets’ overall well-being,” said Keveney. “We remain fully committed to continuing our support of these local rescue organizations alongside our contributions to Best Friends Animal Society.”

Happy Howl was founded on the idea of philanthropy

Happy Howl was founded in April 2021, and while the company is still getting established in the pet food world its mission has always been clear: dogs deserve better. Far beyond providing good nutrition and food dogs will enjoy, Happy Howl has focused on giving back from the start; so much so that the company’s business model is built around it.


Happy Howl Product LineHappy Howl's entire business model is based on the idea of giving back while providing superior nutrition dogs will love. | Photo courtesy Happy Howl

 

"The philanthropic aspect was the most Important thing to me," said company founder Colin Buckley. "We were getting to the point where we were trying to figure out: What is the meaning of this company, what do we represent and how can we help the most dogs? We realized that as a startup company it would be really hard to [do something like] quantify the meals that we were feeding — it didn’t work for us from a business standpoint. So, what we realized was that we could help the most dogs by helping the people who were helping those dogs.”

Happy Howl reserves 10% of its gross revenue for what the company calls affiliate partnerships: rescues it works deeply and long-term with, creating an organic partnership that benefits both the organization (via concrete assistance) and Happy Howl (via authentic word-of-mouth marketing).

“The customer is smarter than they’ve ever been,” said Buckley. “So we wanted to not make commercials and post stuff; we wanted it to be very authentic. The people who run the rescues are typically very driven and this is an aspect of their life they pour their passion into.”

That authenticity is key to Happy Howl’s success so far, and it provides another avenue for the company to help: 10% of Happy Howl’s net profits go into an emergency fund of sorts, which the company uses to help with as many emergency rescue needs as it can each month.

“The one thing about the rescues that we love to work with is the unconditional sacrifice that they have for these dogs,” said Buckley. “It can actually bring you to tears, some of the things they’re doing and how selfless they are for animals that can never say thank you to them. I think that’s [part of what] we’ve taken on, is the job of actually being able to use our words and our ability to say thank you to these rescues. I think that the pet rescues where people are putting animals before themselves, especially in today’s society, we could really learn a lot from that — what it really takes to be a better person, and to do something that you’re never going to get credit for, to do the right thing at all times. We see these rescues doing the right things at all times, and honestly it changes you. And we get to be a part of it, and it’s awesome, it’s amazing.”

 

Looking back: Partnerships key to giving back during COVID-19

www.PetfoodIndustry.com/articles/9674

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