What Does the Philanthropy of a Pet Food Giant Have to Do With Domestic Violence?

More than 7 million dogs and cats are taken in by the 13,600 animal shelters across the United States each year. The ASPCA estimates that 2.7 million of those animals are adopted while the same number are euthanized. Many shelters lack resources to care for the influx of animals, which is where one of the largest pet food companies in the U.S. steps in as part of its corporate responsibility work.

Nestlé Purina PetCare donates 6 million pounds of food, treats and litter annually to animal welfare organizations nationwide. The $19 million worth of donated products plus financial contributions to pet charities and community groups total more than $31.5 million last year, topping the company’s 2014 charitable giving of $27 million. While giving to animal shelters is an obvious charitable commitment for a pet food company, another kind of shelter is on Purina’s radar as well.

We wrote last year about two major beauty brands that give big in support of domestic violence victims. Mary Kay has given over $37 million in this area, with a focus on shelters for women and children. The Avon Foundation committed $500,000 in 2015 to keep abuse hotlines running. Domestic violence is a natural fit for cosmetic company philanthropy, but it turns out that a pet nutrition company can also play an important role.

According to the Urban Resource Institute, as many as 48 percent of domestic violence victims are reluctant to leave abusive homes for fear of leaving their pets behind. Only a few shelters are able to house domestic violence survivors and their pets, resulting in a difficult decision for people seeking escape. Purina took a step toward a solution by partnering with URIPALS (Urban Resource Institute People and Animals Living Safely), New York City’s only domestic violence program that welcomes animals, to build a dog park at a Manhattan emergency shelter. The pet nutrition giant also provides food and supplies for arriving pet owners. 

“Through the URIPALS program, we have witnessed first-hand how important it is for survivors to have their beloved pets by their side through the healing process,” said Nathaniel Fields, president and CEO of URI, adding, “We see every day how the new dog park plays an integral part in helping our clients heal, and for that, we are extremely grateful to Purina.”

Purina’s other philanthropic efforts include product donations following natural disasters and event sponsorship, plus a grant program that accepts applications. The company gives money to pet welfare organizations located within 50 miles of its St. Louis headquarters or one of its manufacturing locations, which are mostly found on the East Coast or in the Midwest with a few scattered out west. The grants are open to pet welfare programs in need of capital improvements or funding for spaying and neutering.