5 Ways to Incorporate Animal Advocacy into Your Pet Business

Why did you choose to go into pet care?

Often, the answer is simple: you love animals. You chose to create a safe and enriching environment for dogs, cats, or other pets. You understand the deep bond that can form between pets and their owners, and every day you dedicate yourself to protecting and caring for these furry friends. 

But what about the animals who aren’t in your care? Anyone in the pet world knows that problems like neglect, cruelty, and abandonment are common. But you’re running a pet care business, not a shelter, so it can feel challenging to combat any of these issues. Whether you’re looking to start a nonprofit in your free time or simply partner with those that already exist in your community, you can make a difference in the lives of animals.

Incorporating animal advocacy into your kennel or dog daycare business plan can help you create meaningful change while also having a positive business impact. Modern consumers care about businesses with purpose, so expanding your advocacy efforts will help you to cultivate a stronger reputation.

Consider the following ways in which you could explore animal advocacy in your pet care business:

    1. Revisit your current business practices.
    2. Partner with a local animal shelter.
    3. Mobilize your customers with an online advocacy campaign.
    4. Implement ongoing corporate philanthropy programs.
    5. Host a #GivingTuesday fundraiser.

Even if you’ve never launched an advocacy campaign or other philanthropic initiative, 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 practices.

To be a champion of animal welfare, your pet business should first start close to home. You can’t advocate for the animals of the world 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:

    1. Freedom from hunger and thirst.
    2. Freedom from discomfort.
    3. Freedom from pain, injury, and disease.
    4. Freedom to express normal and natural behavior.
    5. 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 fill essential needs and help animals thrive.

Consider the following questions and assess whether you are ahead of the competition on all fronts:

    • Is your 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 facility have plenty of natural lighting 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, it’s also smart to refresh yourself and your staff on best practices for safe, contactless operations in the pandemic era. The Gingr guide to COVID-19 and pet care businesses offers useful tips for keeping customers, employees, and animals healthy.

2. Partner with a local animal shelter.

Once you’re satisfied with your own management of animal welfare, you can expand your reach to advocate for other animals in your area.

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. Your business gets to make an impact (and earn some socially-conscious credibility) while the shelter receives needed resources and promotion.

For example, you could try one of the following strategies to help a local shelter: 

    • 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 or package credit. 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. Plus, you already know that your customers are pet lovers, so they may be more than willing to open their hearts and homes to one more.
    • Promote awareness of the shelter. You can spread the word about the shelter to your current customers. While you shouldn’t go overboard here, it can go a long way to post flyers in your facility, share an occasional social media post, or include a section in your newsletter dedicated to 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 (and be well taken care of in the meantime).

3. Mobilize your customers with an online advocacy campaign.

While you might think of an advocacy campaign as something usually executed by a nonprofit or political campaign, you can still 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. 

You can start small with a local or state issue impacting your community. If you’re not sure where to start, reach out to nearby shelters or animal rights organizations for advice. Just remember to have a specific goal in mind! Generally, advocacy campaigns are best executed with a combination of in-person and online actions, but in our current circumstances, you’ll want to prioritize a virtual approach.

According to Mobilize, advocacy software can help you save time and drive stronger results for your campaign, which is especially helpful if this is your business’s first foray into the practice.

If you go this route, be sure to look for software that offers ample solutions for virtual engagement to keep everyone safe.

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. Create a spirit of volunteerism throughout your pet business. You can promote volunteer opportunities by planning a staff bonding activity, 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. With a matching gift program, your business pledges 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 writing a check yourself (though this is also an impactful choice!). 

One timely way to do this is by running a #GivingTuesday fundraiser. This national day of giving happens each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It’s been extremely successful, partially due to generosity and holiday spirit, along with end-of-year deadlines to receive tax benefits. 

Last year, nonprofits raised nearly $2 billion on Giving Tuesday, and many organizations are months into the planning process for 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! Then, a relevant organization is still getting resources for their work, and you don’t need a fundraising expert on staff to be successful.

As a pet care business owner, you’re passionate about animals. When you use this passion to promote animal advocacy, you can enact meaningful change and boost your business’s reputation. 


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. Good luck!

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