Why did you choose to go into the pet-care business? Maybe money has something to do with it — after all, an estimated $124 billion was spent in the U.S. on pet care last year. However, even though business is booming for the pet-care industry, most pet business professionals have a much simpler, more heartfelt motivation: they love animals.
Rather than selling cars or flipping houses, you choose to create a safe and happy environment for dogs, cats, or other pets. Every day, you dedicate yourself to caring for these furry friends — however, not all animals are as lucky as the ones who come through the doors of your pet business. Animal cruelty and neglect are all too common, and sometimes it can feel impossible to combat these issues.
Fortunately, as a pet business leader, there are many ways that you take steps to fight for animal welfare. Whether you’re looking to start a nonprofit in your free time or partner with existing animal charities in your community, you can make a difference in the lives of animals in need.
Furthermore, incorporating animal advocacy into your kennel or dog daycare business plan can do far more than just help you create meaningful change for downtrodden pups and felines. Did you know that 87% of consumers would purchase a product simply because a business advocated for a cause they care about? Modern consumers are hyper-aware of corporate social responsibility, so expanding your animal advocacy efforts will help you cultivate a stronger reputation and better promote your pet business.
Consider the following ways in which your pet-care business can fight for pet advocacy:
- Revisit your current pet business practices.
- Partner with a local animal shelter.
- Mobilize customers with an online pet advocacy campaign.
- Implement ongoing corporate philanthropy programs.
- Host a #GivingTuesday fundraiser.
Even if you’ve never launched an animal advocacy campaign, you can still make an impact. By taking action with one or more of these strategies, you can move a few steps closer to a world where every animal is safe, nourished, and cared for. Let’s get started.
1. Revisit your current pet business practices.
To be a champion of animal welfare and pet advocacy, your pet business should start close to home by refining the management of your own pet-care business. You can’t advocate for animals in far-flung communities if you’re not first taking optimal care of the furry friends in your facility.
Animal welfare experts generally agree on these Five Freedoms as the gold standard for pet care:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst.
- Freedom from discomfort.
- Freedom from pain, injury, and disease.
- Freedom to express normal and natural behavior.
- Freedom from fear and distress.
These freedoms make up the core of the American Humane Certified program. It (hopefully) goes without saying that you’re running a safe, cruelty-free facility, but you should ensure that you’re going above and beyond to fulfill essential these needs and help animals thrive.
Consider the following questions and assess whether you are ahead of the competition on all fronts:
- Is your pet facility spacious with plenty of outdoor runs and limited crowding?
- Do the pets in your care get ample time to socialize with other animals?
- Does your pet facility get plenty of natural light during the day?
- Are you providing ethical, sustainably-sourced pet food and treats?
- Are your training and behavior protocols in line with cruelty-free best practices?
In addition to these everyday principles, you should also take proactive steps to calm and nurture pets that enter your care, such as employing comfort objects and communicating regularly with pet owners about pet behavior. These strategies will enable you to keep animals safe and healthy, set clear employee expectations for pet care, and impress customers with your level of dedication to animal welfare.
2. Partner with a local animal shelter.
Once you’re satisfied with the way that your own pet business manages animal welfare, you can expand your reach to advocate for other animals in your area. If you aren’t currently running a nonprofit animal advocacy organization of your own, then consider partnering with a local animal shelter or humane society to provide ongoing support.
Establishing a long-term relationship with an animal-focused nonprofit in your community is a mutually beneficial choice. First and foremost, the shelter, rescue, or animal-focused nonprofit is receiving critical resources and promotion to further its mission. Additionally, you’re able to drive change in your community, positively promote your pet business, and increase customer loyalty with some hard-earned socially conscious credibility.
To start lending a hand to worthy pet advocacy organizations in your area, you could:
- Make an in-kind donation of pet-care services. If the shelter runs a fundraiser that needs prizes, like an auction or a raffle, you can donate a gift certificate, package credit, or even some of your own business merchandise. Event attendees will be able to bid on your desirable donation, and the proceeds will fund important needs at the shelter.
- Host an adoption event at your facility. There may be times when your local humane society is overflowing with animals and doesn’t have room to take in any more pets. In this case, your kennel or daycare facility makes a perfect place to host an adoption event. Owners who are dropping off or picking up their pets will be able to interact with a host of new furry friends, and may even open up their hearts to another addition to their families.
- Promote awareness of the shelter. To maximize your animal advocacy efforts, spread the word about the shelter to your current customers. It can go a long way to post flyers in your facility, share an occasional social media post, and publicly market fundraising campaigns from the shelter.
According to the ASPCA, 6.5 million dogs and cats enter U.S. shelters every year. By forming a relationship with your local animal shelter, your pet business can help some of these animals find happy homes, while also drumming up sales and promotion for your pet business when it comes time for customers to groom, board, or otherwise pamper these newly adopted pets
3. Mobilize customers with an online pet advocacy campaign.
While you might think of an advocacy campaign as something usually executed by a nonprofit or political campaign, you can also launch one as a business.
With an advocacy campaign, your business tries to generate support for an animal rights-related policy or proposal. Instead of general awareness, an advocacy campaign works to accomplish specific change. This support can be driven by:
- Signing petitions.
- Posting on social media (such as with a hashtag campaign or shareable videos).
- Directly contacting political representatives through phone or email.
- Hosting a virtual town-hall style discussion.
- Holding in-person demonstrations.
If this sounds daunting, remember that you don’t necessarily have to march on Congress to create change. Instead, start small with a local or state issue impacting your community. You can even reach out to nearby shelters or animal rights organizations for guidance on animal advocacy issues strategies for success. Just remember to have a specific goal in mind, and remember that the most successful advocacy campaigns usually employ a combination of in-person and virtual outreach!
You might also consider investing in automated tools, like Gingr’s pet business software, to save time on everyday tasks and focus your attention on driving results for your campaign. If you go this route, be sure to look for virtual and mobile engagement features, as the use of these channels continues to rise in popularity for many consumers.
4. Implement ongoing corporate philanthropy programs.
Creating corporate philanthropy programs within your business can help you establish a strong internal culture of animal advocacy.
By implementing these kinds of programs, you prove to employees and community members that your investment in animal welfare is not a passing phase. These ongoing initiatives can continue to make a difference for years to come.
For example, your business could try one of the following methods to enhance your impact:
- Encourage volunteering. Promote pet advocacy and volunteer opportunities throughout your pet business by planning volunteer-based staff bonding activities, offering a volunteer grant, or even providing paid time off to be used for volunteering with pet advocacy organizations. Each of these options will give your employees a strong incentive to give back!
- Match employee gifts. Double the Donation defines matching gift programs as when businesses pledge to match contributions made by employees to eligible nonprofits. Most often, this match is at a 1:1 ratio, but some businesses double, triple, or even quadruple their gift. You can set a limit for the amount your company will match in a given year to make this a more predictable line in your budget.
While many corporate philanthropy programs can be applied to any registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, you can also stipulate that these programs are only used for animal-focused organizations to ensure you’re impacting the desired cause.
5. Host a #GivingTuesday fundraiser
If you want to provide financial support to animal charities, there are several options besides just writing a check to a local animal shelter (though this is also an impactful choice!).
One timely way to do this is by running a #GivingTuesday fundraiser. This day of giving happens each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It’s been extremely successful due to generosity, the spirit of the holiday season, and end-of-year tax benefit deadlines.
Last year, nonprofits raised nearly $3.1 billion on Giving Tuesday in the United States alone, and many organizations are already hard at work planning this year’s event. To use this day to further your animal advocacy efforts, you can run a campaign that supports a local or national animal rights organization.
A co-branded fundraising campaign will help to build awareness of your pet business while also generating needed funds for shelters and other animal welfare groups.
Alternatively, you can drive your customers towards an existing nonprofit fundraiser by sharing the campaign through email and on social media. The marketing tools available in your pet-care business software will make it easy to get the word out!
As a pet-care business owner, you have the power to turn your community influence, your business, and your passion for animal welfare into a tool for enacting meaningful change for animal advocacy and powerfully promoting your pet business.
As a final note, be sure to do your research and only support shelters and groups that align with your values. You wouldn’t want to put in hard work or donate resources only to discover that you don’t agree with an organization’s practices! However, there are plenty of animal welfare organizations out there with missions that are worthy of your business’s support.