Franchise Philanthropy November/December 2018

Giving Back: Pet Valu

LET YOUR DOG CHEW ON THIS: Pet Valu and their customers have given nearly $22-million worth of cash and donations to benefit the well-being of pets across Canada and the United States. And they’re showing no signs of slowing down.

“It’s a really big part of what we do. Every year we work with our franchisees to raise more money and think of new initiatives we can take part in to help,” says Kellie McCutch­eon, Senior Marketing Manager of Pet Valu. “Animals can’t speak for themselves.”

This is why Pet Valu has taken on the responsibility of being the voice of furry friends. Going back as far as 2010, it’s a role that speaks volumes about their commitment to the welfare of all animals, be it at a local level – “Are you a local char­ity out of kitten milk? Our stores say ‘yes’, we’re going to help raise money for that,” says McCutcheon, or at a national level.

And it’s a role that says a lot about their commitment to helping people too. In 2014, Pet Valu teamed up with the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, a national charity that pro­vides guide dogs to Canadians with disabilities.

“We were looking for a national charity partner that spreads across the country and we loved the spe­cial work Lions Foundation is doing,” explains McCutcheon.

Pet Valu supports six guide dog programs that meet the needs of Canadians who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing. Guide dogs are also critical tools for individuals with other disabilities, such as epilepsy, type 1 diabetes, and children with autism.

Throughout the year, Pet Valu franchisees raise funds for the Lions Foundation through their biggest fundraiser of the year: the Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides. Held in 300 communities across Canada, Pet Valu proudly sponsors 96 teams to walk in support of Pet Valu fundrais­ing initiatives. Some of Pet Valu’s inti­atives include “Give-What-You-Can” Calendars featuring adorable pets, and bandana programs. Some of their franchisees even go above and beyond these initiatives by sponsor­ing their own dog guide teams.

Giving Canadians “a new leash on life and the gift of independence”, 100 per cent of the funds generated by this pet-friendly and all-inclusive walk go towards the training and placement of guide dogs. To date, the event has raised $15-million in dona­tions to facilitate the training of guide dogs for thousands of people. It’s a remarkable feat considering that to train, raise, and place just one guide dog for a person in need racks up a bill of about $25,000 in expenses.

And all of this wouldn’t be pos­sible without the support of Pet Valu customers.

“Our franchisees and employees do an amazing job of talking to cus­tomers about the fundraising initia­tive and educating customers about our work with Dog Guides,” says McCutcheon. “It just goes to show that every dollar counts.”

In fact, by stores simply asking shoppers to give any amount they wish, Pet Valu stores coast to coast have raised over $200,000 in 2018 alone.

On top of this, more and more franchisees support their own res­cues, local charities, and host fund­raising drives (like Pet Appreciation Month in April and Thanks for Giving in October), giving customers even more opportunities to help pets and people year-round.

“It’s been amazing. Our custom­ers truly believe in our mission. They’ve been, and continue to be, so lovely and generous,” she says.

From sponsored walks to pet food bank donations to adoption events throughout the year, Pet Valu’s commitment to supporting animal-centric charities has helped benefit both pets and their human compan­ions in many ways.

But there are still gaps in the care pets receive. Recognizing this, Pet Valu will soon be launching a new service in partnership with the North Bay and District Humane Society. The Pet Valu Animal Res­cue Express, starting this fall, will drive into communities, move pets around, and get them the services they desperately need.

What is sure to be an exciting project, it’s clear that Pet Valu is born and bred to give back. For the animals and people who benefit from their continued efforts, hav­ing a store like Pet Valu around (and local operators who care about giv­ing back to local pets in need), is enough to get any tail wagging.

By Trisha Utomi