Supporting Pets & Communities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Our pets offered much-needed comfort and companionship throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and as our communities recover and we return to the office, Pet Food Institute (PFI) members remain committed to caring for pets and people no matter the challenge.

Find out more about how PFI members have stepped up to provide support and aid across the country during a tough past two years.

Caring for Vulnerable Cats & Dogs

As the country’s economy came to standstill in the spring of 2020 with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations such as Greater Good Charities became an increasingly vital lifeline for animal welfare organizations. Greater Good Charities’ Rescue Bank program collects and distributes pet food and supplies to non-profits across the country that need it most.

 The J.M. Smucker Co. contributed to this national distribution approach by donating over 13.89 million pet food meals in 2020, helping local non-profits ensure pets still received complete and balanced meals during times of uncertainty.

These critical food donations for pets in need also continued into the following year. Freshpet has provided pet food to more than 6,000 pets at shelters and rescues in 2021, reaching more than one million meals so far. The pet food maker also helped nearly 1,300 pets receive a second chance at a happy life by receiving proper nutrition and medical care through its shelter hospital food program, and is helping pets find forever homes by supporting positive behavior treatments to help dogs learn new skills and overcome fears.

Encouraging Pet Adoption & Fostering

With people spending more time at home, more households looked to adopting a new dog or cat. In October 2020, Mars Petcare’s BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ 12th Annual Adoption Weekend increased the accessibility of pet adoptions by waiving fees and facilitating virtual meet-and-greets with adoptable cats and dogs across five shelters in Nashville, Tenn. and Houston, Texas.

“We want to ensure as many people as possible can experience the love and support pets can offer,” said Jam Stewart, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Mars Petcare. “By expanding the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Adoption Weekend, we hoped to help more people find their forever friend and further support our mission of ending pet homelessness.”

Mars Petcare also placed 200 life-sized cutouts of the adoptable pets in the Tennessee Titans’ game against the Houston Texans. The program garnered local and nation media attention, while raising awareness for ending pet homelessness. In total, 326 pets found their forever homes.

Ongoing Community Support & Involvement

PFI member companies are passionate about supporting the cities and towns where they live and work, from economic impact to volunteering. Community involvement is a core principle in the PFI Code of Practice.

In the winter of 2020, PFI member Alphia donated needed items, including pet beds and chew toys, to a homeless shelter in Ogden, Utah that has a pet kennel, helping those experiencing homelessness keep their dog or cat in temporary housing. In addition, employees organized a coat and blanket drive for the shelter, as well as a toy drive to benefit kids at the YCC Family Crisis Center in Utah during the 2020 holiday season.

Supporting the Human-Animal Bond into the Future

How can we help further utilize the relationships and benefits from our pets, while supporting their well-being as we return to the office? One possible solution for the future is for organizations to build and implement pet-friendly office policies that allow for pets in the workplace. This can help not just the pets who grew adjusted to more time with their human families, but also to workers and employers!

To further study this issue, PFI member Nestlé Purina PetCare conducted research in 2021 which found that 76 percent of pet owners working from home report they’ve been happier doing so with their pet by their side. In addition, 73 percent of those surveyed expressed concern about how their pets will react to their sudden absence upon return to the office. Purina shared these survey results alongside recommendations and resources for offices as they explore the possibility of pet-friendly workplaces in the future.

“Now is the time to seriously consider the role that pets have had, and will continue to have, in the lives of employees,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, CEO and President at Purina. “Introducing pets into the workplace creates a cultural shift that brings people together, offers stress relief and fun, and increases productivity. Incorporating a pet-friendly office policy now also will help the pets who have supported us throughout this time adjust to a new reality.”

A Commitment to People, Pets and Community

PFI members are working every day to help pets, people and their communities. We are proud to help amplify these stories and represent the dog and cat food makers supporting long and healthy lives for pets.

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