By Maria Bennici
It has been said that a dog is a man’s best friend, but do humans really treat dogs, and its animal brethren, with the same sort of love? Unfortunately, animals receive a lot of abuse and can even face untimely deaths at the hands of humans, from the murder of wild exotic animals to 3.4 million cats and dogs being euthanized in 2013. Luckily, these organizations promote the health of animals—and humans as well—in inspiring and innovative ways.
- WOOF Program (San Francisco, CA): During the economic recession, the San Francisco Animal Care and Control and its rescue partners were overwhelmed by the number of dogs left at their centers, causing a rise in overcrowding and risk of euthanasia for dogs that could have been adopted if they received more training. As a result, Wonderful Opportunities for Occupants and Fidos (WOOF Program) was born, pairing dogs that need special attention and care in order to become more adoptable with foster parents who had been homeless and/or had lived in a shelter before. Although there has been controversy over pairing animals in need with homeless people, the WOOF Program is only open to foster parents with stable housing, and the parents are forbidden from panhandling. Furthermore, the program gives parents essential dog training, such as housetraining and basic obedience, as well as more human life skills, such as job readiness and banking tips.
- Virginia Woof (Portland, OR): This doggie daycare is a non-profit which operates with Outside In, a Portland-based organization that provides opportunities to homeless and at-risk youth. At the daycare, youth are properly trained to be able to help and supervise the dogs, eventually becoming eligible for internships at the center and potentially jobs in the animal care field afterwards. Not only do at-risk youth gain job experience and have the chance to form bonds with animals, but the dogs also get quality care, providing a safe place to socialize with other dogs.
- n:philanthropy (Los Angeles, CA): Launched by Yvonne Niami in 2015, this womenswear clothing line is in its second collection, and 10 percent of sales are donated to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (SPCALA) and Children’s Hospital. This giving spirit is showcased inside the pants, which says “BTW—you just helped a child and animal in need—good work!” in the lining.
- Heartland Farm Sanctuary (Madison, WI): This idyllic farm, a non-profit which began in 2010, offers support to both animals and humans in need. Dozens of abused and abandoned animals, such as chickens, pigs, ducks, and goats, have been rescued by the sanctuary, which either provides a home for the animals for the rest of their lives or finds the animal an adoptive family. Additionally, the sanctuary provides therapeutic animal-assisted services to adults and youth with special needs or a background of trauma, giving them a chance to form a bond with creatures that will neither judge nor harm them.
- Rescue Chocolate (Brooklyn, NY): This chocolate company uses an annual beneficiary model to donate its proceeds to various animal welfare organizations, but it also partners with rescue organizations by either giving back $1 on every item sold or allowing the organizations to re-sell the chocolate, earning about $2 in profit on each product sold. The chocolate is vegan and kosher, and the company is B Corporation Certified.