Community involvement doesn’t always mean partnering with the usual suspects.

As a small business owner, you have undoubtedly been asked to be a sponsor of a local golf tournament, take an advertisement out in a high school yearbook or donate merchandise or a gift card to a charity benefit. It’s part of the tasks of a small business owner to pick and choose where your money and time goes.

You probably also feel the need to work with one of your local shelters or rescue groups, and I’m sure you already do, but have you ever thought about doing something that extends beyond the norm? 

Two years ago, we partnered with our local (human) food bank to help it distribute good quality pet food to the families in need in its 16-county region. We find manufacturers to help us with food donations, and we accept monetary donations, which in turn we use to purchase food (at cost) from our store to donate.

Our pet food bank, Howie’s Harvest, is named after our store cat. He’s a bit of a celebrity at the store, and having a name to go with this endeavor seemed like a good way to get people on board with it. We had a local graphic designer make us a logo, and we utilize the hashtag #howiesharvest on social media.

We also hold fundraisers for Howie’s Harvest. Our biggest is Peeps for Paws — For a Good Cause Doggie Easter egg hunt. We partnered with the city to hold the hunt at our local dog park. Each dog must pay $5 or donate five human non-perishable food goods to participate. This year, we filled more than 1,500 eggs with treats and coupons for prizes donated by some of our manufacturers and local pet businesses.  

If you are having trouble thinking outside the box on ways to help, here are a few other things to try:

  • Host a dog walk. The American Cancer Society Bark for Life is a great one to try. Contact your local ACS representative for details.
  • Partner with a local hospital. We actually do two events with one of our local hospitals. The Pink Walk, which is held in October, raises money for Breast Cancer Awareness and we are a sponsor of the Furry 5K, which raises money for their inpatient rehabilitation pet therapy program. 
  • Work with your local parks department. We sponsor Doggy Swim day at the local dog park to help raise money for the Parks Development Foundation.
  • Host a benefit dog wash. If you a self-service dog wash or dog washing facility, you can easily have a benefit dog wash. Pick a charity and wash some dogs!

Don’t pigeonhole yourself with the same stale benefits and donations. There are so many ways you can help pets in your area, all while introducing yourself to other facets of the community in which you live.

Stacy Busch-Heisserer owns Busch Pet Products, a holistic pet supply store, and recently opened Deer Creek Doggie Day Camp. She is currently working on a clinical pet nutrition certification through the Academy of Natural Health Sciences. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


This article originally appeared in the July-August 2017 edition of PETS+.