By Christine Managan
Any chance you’re feeling guilty about that Swarovski-studded collar you purchased for your couture canine last week? Maybe you’re having second thoughts about that pricey Halloween costume that Whiskers is wearing? No need to worry. In fact, if you know where to shop, you should feel good about pampering your pet, as your dollars could have a bigger impact than you suspected.
As the number of pet boutiques continues to climb, many pet-loving business owners have decided to use their profits for a worthy cause. And whether that means donating to local animal charities or hosting adoption events, the ways to give back to less fortunate animals are numerous and varied. And best of all, these charity events seem to be just as popular as the businesses themselves.
One such retailer is Red Dog House. It’s an upscale shop in Chicago’s chic Bucktown neighborhood owned by Steven and Maurice Greenberg. The store offers a number of accessories, toys, treats, and spa products—some of which are exclusive to Red Dog House—and the Greenbergs believe in giving back to the community.
As self-proclaimed dog fanatics, the Greenbergs decided they wanted to help local animal charities and rescue groups. In addition to hosting adoption days and a number of other affairs, Red Dog House recently held an event for Sit Stay Read, a local literacy organization. With the Greenbergs’ help, the organization was able to procure canine volunteers willing to participate as therapy dogs in a children’s literacy group.
In the spirit of “what goes around comes around,” the Greenbergs hope that by supporting a number of animal charities they in turn will be able establish Red Dog House as a worthwhile resource for pets and their guardians.
“After all, animals can’t completely take care of themselves, and it’s a great feeling to lend a helping paw,” Steve Greenberg says.
Another company putting its proceeds toward a good cause is Planet Dog, an online retailer with a company store in Portland, Maine. In 2001, in an effort to give back to the community that supports them, the ownership team of Planet Dog created the Planet Dog Foundation.
“The mission of the foundation is to promote and celebrate programs in which dogs serve and support their best friends,” says Kristen Smith, the executive director of Planet Dog Foundation. “We support therapy dogs, service dogs, canine search and rescue teams, police and fire dogs, and other innovative programs that use dogs to help people in need. We celebrate working dogs that are enhancing and saving human lives.”
A nonprofit grant-making organization, Planet Dog Foundation has already awarded grants to 16 nonprofits across the country. In addition, the foundation also donates Planet Dog products as auction items or raffle prizes to other nonprofits to further aid them in their fundraising efforts.
For anyone looking to pamper their pet while simultaneously supporting a good cause, the Planet Dog Company Store donates a portion of the proceeds from every item purchased in the store to the foundation. In another unique twist, people can add the Glow for Good Ball, a glow-in-the-dark dog toy, to their collection. One hundred percent of proceeds from this item go directly to the Foundation. Who can say no to that?
Pet boutiques aren’t the only ones dedicated to helping out our four-legged friends. For Jenny Shotwell, owner of Dog-Gone Gorgeous Pet Spa & Boutique, the pet spa business has provided the perfect opportunity to give back.
Open since 2006, Dog-Gone Gorgeous Pet Spa & Boutique provides residents of Newton, New Jersey, with a place to pamper their companion animals with both grooming services in a spa-like setting and a boutique filled with upscale dog items.
“We are a full-service groomer,” Shotwell says. This means that not only can dogs get their nails clipped, but a variety of other animals—reptiles included—can also indulge.
By taking advantage of the spa’s grooming services, residents are not only contributing to the well-being of their own pets but to other animals as well. “I donate a portion of proceeds every month to different charities,” Shotwell says.
For every grooming appointment, Shotwell pledges $1 to be donated. At the end of each month, she holds a drawing in which the customers who have had their pets groomed are entered. The person whose name is chosen is given the honor of selecting the local animal-related charity of his or her choice, to which the money from that month is then donated.
A guardian of rescued dogs, Shotwell is a big believer in giving back. “My family has been in this area for 300 years and they are all involved in local charities.” To this end, she also works with Barks Inc., a local rescue organization in New Jersey, by hosting adoption days in her salon. She says that whatever you put out in the world, you eventually get back tenfold.
If trendy pet boutiques and spas aren’t really your scene, but you still want to give back, then Carivintas Winery just might provide the perfect avenue. Created by Matt Hahn and Fleet Hamilton, the Napa Valley-based winery simultaneously excites oenophiles and helps animals.
Here’s how it works: Every month a wine club member will receive a bottle of vino, complete with inspirational stories of families and their lives with dogs, along with a label that features a selected dog photo. In fact, guardians can even request a bottle of wine with a photo of their own beloved pet. The best part? Ten percent of all proceeds go to the HSUS or to the animal charity of your choosing, provided you are registered with the wine club.
“One of our main goals is to teach nonprofits how to fish rather than simply give them a fish,” Hahn and Fleet say. “Our programs accomplish this by using fundraising methods similar to those employed by schools and other groups, but even better still. By providing them donations based upon club-member subscriptions, we are supporting these nonprofits with a continuous income stream rather than one time or occasional donations. This effectively puts them in charge of their incomes.”
The next time you decide to lavishly pamper your companion animal, be sure to search out those shops and organizations that you know will give back. You’ll not only be pampering your own pet, but hopefully many others as well.