Through a range of fundraisers and adoption-focused events and programs, Pet Food Express demonstrates a firm commitment to supporting pets throughout its community.
An essential part of the Pet Food Express culture is a genuine love for animals. This drive to provide the best possible care for pets comes through in many aspects of the business, but is perhaps most visible in its wide variety of community outreach programs. Through a range of fundraisers and adoption-focused events and programs, the company demonstrates a firm commitment to supporting pets throughout its community.
The Bay Area Pet Fair stands out as the marquee event, which Pet Food Express has been hosting annually since 2011. In total, 4,760 pets have been adopted through the event and the company has donated more than $280,000 in the last six years to the 80-plus pet rescues and shelters that participate in the weekend event. Pet Food Express provides free parking and admission to the more than 40,000 people who attend, as well as free booths and outreach for participating non-profits.
Another impressive feature of the Bay Area Pet Fair is how many of its adoptions are successful in the long term. Rather than creating an environment that inspires impulsive decisions, Pet Food Express works with the rescues and shelters to make sure the adoptions stick.
“We don’t want dad coming down to the fair and then surprising mom with a puppy—that doesn’t usually work, at least in our experience,” says Mike Murray, director of community outreach. “We give everybody a full week to finalize and that seems to work really well as far as solid adoptions. We get very, very few pets returned. The return rate is under one percent, and normally in big events like that it’s more like 15 or 20 percent.”
Another important aspect of Pet Food Express’ community outreach is the My Mutt program. Launched 14 years ago, the program recognizes all shelter and rescue animals and raises money for pet adoption organizations. For a donation of $250 or more over the adoption fee, Pet Food Express assigns a professional photographer to take a picture of the owner’s newly adopted pet. The photo is turned into a poster featuring the pet’s name and the name of the organization receiving the donation and hung in a Pet Food Express store for six months to a year. So far, the program has raised more than $3 million, all of which has gone directly to the shelters and rescues.
Outside of the shelter and rescue world, Pet Food Express makes a difference in the lives of police dogs through its Cover Your K9 fundraiser for the Police and Working K9 Foundation, which provides protective gear for working dogs. The event started with one local police department coming to Pet Food Express seven years ago, as they had two new dogs but no funding for protective vests, which cost about $1,200 apiece.
“We used our pet wash as a fundraiser, and people came in and either washed their dog or bought tokens for the dog wash and we donated the proceeds from that,” Murray says. “We had two stores involved, and surprisingly we raised enough money to buy five vests.”
Following that initial success, the program was expanded company-wide and last year raised more than $160,000 in a single weekend. Cover Your K9 now also helps fund additional gear, such as heat alarms and remote door releases for police cars, trauma kits for dogs and a class to teach officers how to administer first aid to their dogs in the field.
“We’ve had a couple of dogs whose lives were saved because the officer was able to treat them in the field,” Murray says.
These programs are just a fraction of the ways Pet Food Express supports its community. From hosting adoption events and fundraisers to donating products, the company continuously invests in doing good. With the expansion of the chain throughout California, Pet Food Express aims to grow its outreach and community service programs to a statewide level as well.
“As the company has grown, so has the commitment to giving back,” Murray says. “Some companies only do enough to look good, and that’s not enough around here.”