October’s Heart to Paw Grant to Help Outfit New Pet Oncology Center

Cancer is a disease that impacts most of us directly or indirectly at some point in our lives. However, with the right support and treatment, many are able to overcome the battle with successful cancer remissions. Unfortunately, for our pet family battling cancer, their chances are not as high due to low awareness and availability of treatments that are as advanced as what is available for humans. In fact, cancer accounts for nearly 50 percent of all disease-related pet deaths each year and is the leading cause of death for dogs over the age of 2. Together with veterinary oncologists across the country, CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center has been fighting to change these statistics for over a decade by improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pet animals. In fact, more than 50 percent of pet cancers can be managed or cured, a similar rate to that for humans, with the proper treatment.

 CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center (FACC) offers the latest and most advanced diagnostics and treatments in surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to pets that might be in the fight of their lives. In addition, they offer palliative care and end of life care, when needed. They continually improve their work through innovative study of cancer, thoughtful and compassionate care, specialized treatment options and procedures. The FACC’s end goal is to find a cure for cancer through clinical oncology service, clinical trials and advanced clinical and research training for veterinarians. They are starting construction to remodel their existing space in January 2016 and will move into the new space in late 2016. With the support of Big Heart Pet Brands October $20,000 Heart to Paw grant, they will be able to outfit the center with vital equipment needed in order to continue their mission.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the gift from Big Heart Pet Brands! Our team will be expanding from a few separate small rooms totaling just over 2,000 square feet to more than 6,100 square feet of new space. This generous grant will be devoted to purchasing new equipment for the space, including computers and vital medical equipment. More importantly, it will allow our team to better care for patients who see us during nearly 8,000 appointments annually. We can’t thank you enough!” — Christine S. Hardy, DVM, MBA, MPH, Operations and Development, Flint Animal Cancer Center  

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Big Heart Pet Brands is proud to support BARK and welcome them into our Heart to Paw family!

August’s Heart to Paw Grant to Help Improve Children’s Reading Skills

In today’s school system, many young students are finding it increasingly difficult to get the attention they need to develop proper reading skills. Classrooms are packed to capacity and teachers are spread thin. These conditions foster environments where more shy children feel intimidated and unsupported, resulting in many falling behind in their studies. But in Southern California, some unlikely heroes have emerged from a small organization called Beach Animals Reading with Kids (BARK).

Founded in 2007, BARK is an all-volunteer program that helps children increase their reading skills and self-confidence by reading aloud to certified therapy dogs with surprising impact. In fact, a recent study at UC Davis showed that kids in reading dog programs increase their reading skills by nearly 20% over kids who are not in a reading dog program. Additionally, educators BARK work with report 82% of BARK students increased their reading skills, self-confidence and class participation. However, keeping up this important work and growing such a unique organization takes a steady flow of new books and access to more dogs. With the support of Big Heart Pet Brands August $20,000 Heart to Paw grant, this is possible.

“This generous donation will be used to purchase books, create new outreach programs, and help us continue to grow our organization. With more book purchases, we can create a new incentive program for children where they read with BARK on three visits and get a new book. In addition, we can increase the number of therapy dog and handler teams so that we can reach more children!” — Josie Gavieres, Founder/Director, BARK

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Aretha Ashby, Big Heart Pet Brands’ Senior Group Manager of R&D Innovation, submitted the grant proposal. Aretha and her daughter have been involved with BARK for several years:

“I first learned about Beach Animals Reading with Kids (BARK) about five years ago. Since then, I’ve joined several BARK visits at local libraries, where my daughter, Rebekah, read with some amazing BARK dogs. And last year, my daughter’s school invited BARK to visit with the first-grade students (emerging readers). Rebekah and her classmates were overjoyed to read with several BARK dogs, and she came home telling me about the awesome Labrador with the green bandana and how well he listened as she read to him.”

Big Heart Pet Brands is proud to support BARK and welcome them into our Heart to Paw family!

July’s Heart to Paw Grant to Impact the Lives of Several Veterans

When a member of the military is called to duty, they put their entire life on hold to fight for our country’s safety and security. Unfortunately, the effects of combat often leave these soldiers with life-changing conditions. Upon their return home, many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). These conditions cause the sufferer to feel confused, anxious and afraid. As a result, more than 20 veterans commit suicide each day. One of the organizations fighting to decrease this statistic is Dogs 4 Warriors.

Dogs 4 Warriors provides highly trained service dogs at no cost to veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI and other combat-related injuries. The organization raises, trains and later matches service dogs to a veteran based on the veteran’s home life and personal needs. Each pup and veteran team receives on-site training together that can last weeks. Sadly, Dogs 4 Warriors can only help a few veterans at a time due to limited space. But with the help of Big Heart Pet Brands July $20,000 Heart to Paw grant, that’s about to change.

“This donation means that we can expand our current operations to meet the needs of several more veterans! Since we started Dogs 4 Warriors, our goal has been to build a 5 room cabin that would be living space for multiple veterans while they train with their service dogs. This donation finally gives us the means to work towards our goal!” – Sheila Slezak, Founder and CEO, Dogs 4 Warriors

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Arun Ghosh, Big Heart Pet Brands’ Senior Manager of Demand Planning, submitted the grant proposal after meeting two wounded veterans who had been helped by Dogs 4 Warriors:

“I was on a long train ride last spring and I ended up sitting next to two war veterans. They shared with me their stories of dealing with PTSD and how Dogs 4 Warriors helped them, and many other veterans, cope with the illness through service dogs. I was touched by their stories and wanted to help Dogs 4 Warriors continue their important and generous work.”

Big Heart Pet Brands is proud to support Dogs 4 Warriors and welcome them into our Heart to Paw family!

June’s Heart to Paw Grant to Fund Critical Care Plan for Severely Injured Dogs

Having a physical disability can make everyday life challenging, but with the right care and support, those who are disabled can live a more comfortable and productive life. Unfortunately, this kind of support is often not available to disabled pets. Instead, many pets’ lives are cut short when pet parents view euthanasia as the only viable option. That’s when organizations like Pets With Disabilities step in.pets_disability_logo

Pets with Disabilities aims to make it possible for pet parents to choose life for their disabled furry family members. Their small but mighty team offers education, support, rescue and specialized care for the countless pet parents and pets facing physical injury. They also provide a safe and beautiful haven for animals that have been abandoned due to their illness or injury. However, this care is costly and hard choices have to be made about where funds should be allocated. But with Big Heart Pet Brands June $20,000 Heart to Paw grant, Pets with Disabilities can now complete two deferred programs.

“We have been in our facility for almost 10 years and it has sustained significant wear and tear over time. Upgrades have been put on the back burner for a while, but with such a large donation we can finally take care of these improvements. More importantly, the donation will also fund our critical care plan that helps severely injured dogs return to an active and healthy lifestyle, ready to be adopted into forever homes. Thank you!” — Joyce Darrell, President, Pets With Disabilities

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Leah Eidson, Big Heart Pet Brands’ Sales Merchandiser, submitted the grant proposal. She has high praise for this organization:

“I met Joyce and Mike Darrell several years ago and was immediately overwhelmed by their love and dedication to the pets they help through their organization. Beyond the shelter and medical help they offer on site, Joyce and Mike also travel all over the country education and spreading awareness about pets with disabilities that need a loving home. This is a very special and deserving organization run by very special people.”

Big Heart Pet Brands is proud to support Pets With Disabilities and welcome them into our Heart to Paw family!

May’s Heart to Paw Grant to Help Dreams Come True with a New Facility

“Since the inception of Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue, it has always been our dream to have a building in which to house our animals in a loving and safe place. We do not want a shelter atmosphere, but instead wish to create a true home environment. We want to acclimate the animals to living in a real home situation and at the same time have ample opportunity to work with each of them on obedience and agility. We also want to create a meeting place where our volunteers can gather, take a dog out on the porch with a cup of coffee and socialize with one another and the dogs, bringing to life the home experience. All of this is to help our animals strengthen their minds and bodies so that they become productive members of the community.”  — Kathy Nowakowski, Board Member and Managing Director of Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue

Big Heart Pet Brands is proud to help make this dream become a reality for the team at Heart of Niagara with the help of May’s $20,000 Heart to Paw grant.HON_logo_color

Heart of Niagara’s mission is simple – to protect the health and welfare of abandoned, unwanted, homeless companion animals by helping to reduce the staggering number of innocent animals senselessly killed each day. They provide shelter for animals until they are placed with suitable adoptive families. Prior to adoption, animals are evaluated, vaccinated and spayed/neutered by licensed veterinarians. Their work also includes educating the community on the importance of proactive measures in regards to proper/responsible animal care, the prevention of cruelty to animals and the consequences associated with overpopulation. As of 2015, Heart of Niagara has made possible the adoption of more than 300 companion animals that were once local strays or surrenders, or in high-kill shelters or puppy mills. They are now with their forever families in loving homes.

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Many employees from Big Heart Pet Brands’ Milk-Bone facility in Buffalo, NY are active volunteers at Heart of Niagara. Gary Thomas, Upstate New York Market Sales Representative, felt moved to submit the grant proposal after he saw firsthand how dedicated and devoted the Heart of Niagara team were while working with the organization last summer. Gary and the Milk-Bone crew out of Buffalo will be presenting the grant check to Heart of Niagara during the Milk-Bone-sponsored Dog Day at the Ballpark on May 17th when the Buffalo Bisons play the Toledo Mud Hens.

Big Heart Pet Brands is proud to support Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue and welcome them into our Heart to Paw family!

April’s Heart to Paw Grant to Cover Costs of 12 Pet Clinics

When an organization’s goal is to not only relieve pet overpopulation and unnecessary euthanasia in the Pittsburgh, PA area, but to end it all together, it’s quite an undertaking. Yet, that’s exactly what Animal Friends has been fighting for since 1943. And Big Heart Pet Brands is pleased to help further their mission by awarding Animal Friends with April’s Heart to Paw grant of $20,000.

Animal Friends has an interesting history. It all started at the height of World War II when a small group of Pittsburgh citizens came together in an effort to find homes for soldiers’ pets once they left to serve. After the war, the group decided to open a shelter because it had become clear there was a strong need for ongoing compassionate control of the pet overpopulation. They took a name – Animal Friends – that clearly articulated their mission: to serve as friends to unwanted animals.

Over time, Animal Friends evolved to meet an increasing demand for their services.  One of their more popular services is providing low or no-cost spay and neutering surgeries to low-income pet owners, feral cat colony caretakers, pit bull owners and shelters without spay and neutering programs. These procedures cost up to $350 in a private veterinary clinic; however, Animal Friends provides the service for as low as $30, drastically increasing the chances of pet parent participation. With the support of our April Heart to Paw grant, Animal Friends will be able to make more than 350 more surgeries possible by covering the costs of 12 low-cost spay and neuter clinics!

“Animal Friends is so grateful for the support of Big Heart Pet Brands,” said Cassandra Dixon, Director of Development at Animal Friends. “The funds donated through this grant will allow us to continue the life-saving work that we do every day, including offering low-cost spay/neuter services with the hope of one day ending the overpopulation of homeless pets in our region. It is very apparent that employees of Big Heart Pet Brands truly value the work that encompasses our mission, as they have consistently shown an outpouring of support for Animal Friends.”

Many employees from Big Heart Pet Brands have supported Animal Friends throughout the years. Josh Cooper, Northeast Director of Sales, was inspired to submit the grant proposal as he strongly valued the important work the organization does.

In addition to the Heart to Paw grant, this year Big Heart Pet Brands is also proud to be a Compassionate Corporate Partner for Animal Friends’ 31 Days of Compassion taking place in May. Our sponsorship will help Animal Friends sponsor a low-cost vaccination clinic, covering the costs for 200 animals to be treated.

During the 31 Days of Compassion, Animal Friends will engage the community through an education, awareness and fundraising campaign to support four critical areas of focus. These include the importance of low cost spay/neuter programming, benefits of shelter adoption, the positive effects of pet therapy and the prevention of animal cruelty. Several community events are planned during the month. Visit www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org or call 412-847-7073 for more information and to learn how you can get involved!

Big Heart Pet Brands is proud to support Animal Friends and welcome them into our Heart to Paw family!

March’s Heart to Paw Grant to Enable Big Expansion for Arkansas Shelter

As we’ve discussed before, the Heart to Paw grant program is driven by Big Heart Pet Brands employees who submit grant proposals to benefit pet organizations near and dear to their hearts. Typically, one to two individuals choose to submit proposals, but when a dozen employees band together to nominate an organization, it’s clear that organization is doing impactful work.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

FRONT-HumaneSocietyofRogers (1)This is a profound statement – one that the Humane Society for Animals serving Benton County Arkansas has used as a guiding principle for the past 43 years and through the treatment of over 90,000 animals. They are firm believers that the better animals are treated, the stronger our bonds become with them, enriching all of our lives and bettering our community. However, Humane Society for Animals is one of the last non-profit shelters in Northwest Arkansas to provide spay and neutering, medical care, housing and pet adoption services. Funds are always tight, but facility space in particular has been a big struggle. For years the organization has been raising money to build a new space that allows for the care of more animals. With the support of March’s $20, 000 Heart to Paw grant, this is now possible.

“This is unbelievable, and couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Clayton Morgan, Director of the Humane Society for Animals. “The generous grant from Big Heart Pet Brands finally will allow us to expand our 43 year old facility with a new structure that will include 50 living spaces for dogs, a cat condo room, an education room, a laundry room, a bathing/grooming room, and plenty of storage. This all solidifies our continuing commitment to the welfare of animals for years to come!

The Big Heart Pet Brands team that submitted the grant proposal for the Humane Society for Animals has had a long-standing history with the organization. Many have been volunteering with them for up to 7 years and have even adopted pets of their own. All of their submissions echoed one sentiment – the Humane Society for Animals deeply deserves the grant due to the positive impact they are making in Northwest Arkansas. The team, together with the entire local Big Heart Pet Brands office in Rogers, Arkansas, plans to continue to volunteer at local events and fundraisers that support the Humane Society for Animals and other local shelters.

A big thank you to all employees who submitted the proposal:

Kristin Switzer

Matthew Musgrave

April Davis

Marco Patitucci

Kirena Sheppard

Julie Swanson

Dan Hollingsworth

Regina Beecroft

Bryan Phillips

Mel Moltamore

Chad Linam

Jeff Ratcliff

Big Heart Pet Brands is proud to support the Humane Society for Animals and welcome them into our Heart to Paw family!

About Heart to Paw

Big Heart Pet Brands Heart to Paw Giving Program gives 2,500 employees the collective responsibility of allocating nearly half a million dollars to organizations that share our heartfelt commitment to pets and the people who love them. Each month, we will announce a new $20,000 grant recipient here on the Heart to Paw blog.

To learn more about Heart to Paw, click here.