In January, I had the honor and privilege to represent the pet fashion industry with an appearance on Fox Business’ “Markets Now” along with celebrity pet groomer Jorge Bendersky. This segment came about as a result of a story by AP writer Sue Manning that I was quoted in. We were interviewed by anchor Lori Rothman, who is a dynamo talent that has earned her position at the anchor desk.
There was one aside during the interview that I wanted to address. And, note: I have purposefully waited to publicly comment on this because I wanted to sit with it a while and do a little research on my own. I’ve put the video below so that you can watch it before I go on.
You’ll note the part of the conversation that leads up to specific comment starts around the 1:48 mark in the video itself when Lori says, “Alright, but, Lauren, this is a little absurd. Let’s be honest.” Now, to be clear: I understand some folks find pet fashion absurd. I go on to explain that there will be proponents and opponents to just about anything in life. Pet fashion allows people to express personality. And, for me, personally pet fashion comes from a place of creating a much deeper bond and connection with our pets. That isn’t the specific comment I wanted to address, but gives the lead in.
Around the 2:35 mark in the video, Ms. Rothman says, “I mean look, there’s a lot to be said and argued about… if someone stops the pet on the street, they’re getting attention for this outfit and, therefore, avoiding the neglect that is such a devastating problem in this country.”
That last line is the one I take exception with. It implies cause and effect between pet fashion attention and the avoidance of neglect. I didn’t get a chance to address the comment because Lori moved on fairly quickly. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not sure if Ms. Rothman meant for this to sound the way that it does. So, while I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt as a pet parent, I also want to address the comment.
The line implies that you can EITHER focus on neglect OR pet fashion. And, to me, they aren’t mutually exclusive of each other. My opinion is that the more we anthropomorphize pets, the more love and respect we create for them as fellow beings on this planet. And, with more of that love and respect comes more of a sense of responsibility to providing responsible care and righting neglectful wrongs, which is an opposite effect.
But, this was Fox Business. So, let’s focus on business. I think there is a more symbiotic relationship between companies in the pet industry and the support of worthy pet causes that raise the bar on the treatment of animals. When I did a social media post, I received an overwhelming response from many companies that are supporting pet causes. This comes in various forms. Companies like Natural Paws, Earth Heart, Dog Fashion Spa, Just Fur Fun, Left Paw Press (disclosure: publishing imprint for International Association of Pet Fashion Professionals), PetHub.com, Scout & Zoe’s donate product. BOGO Bowl even has it as a part of their mission to give away half of what they produce.
Other companies and professional like Trendy Pet and Dr. Christina Chambreau, donate a straight percentage. The average percentage was ten percent. Some companies have formed foundations that award grants such as Dr. Jane’s Healthy Pet Net Foundation. The Planet Dog Foundation reached over $1 Million given this year.
Some companies get very creative with their giving. PetHub.com has a 10-10 program that gives 10% to non-profits. Marketing Director, Lorien Clemens, also said they host a “Kiss Me I’m Rescued” photo contest to raise thousands for three different groups.
It isn’t just the companies that are donating. All of them are also volunteering in some way with pet causes that are close to their hearts. For example, Mary Oquendo of Hands and Paws- Reiki For All is on the board for the Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund, which helps groomers hit by tragedies such as hurricanes and floods.
Where the donations go vary but are all pet related. GoToRovers.com donates a portion to K9s for Warriors while Earth Heart donates to pet therapy programs for veterans with PTSD. Many companies and people help with rescue organizations. These organizations are the life and blood of taking in, taking care of, and finding homes for animals that have been neglected.
According to Kim Davis of Donate Wise Now, a 2013 study by Blackbaud showed that 50% of all donors have given money at a retail store’s checkout counter, making it the most popular means of giving.
I could go on and on. This is just a short roundup. I personally have not come in contact with a pet company that DOESN’T give back in one way or another. This is one of the reason I LOVE the pet industry and the people in it. These are good people making great companies. My point is: I personally can’t imagine how much MORE neglect there would be if we didn’t have entrepreneurs creating products for consumers that get attention, get bought, and raise even more awareness and funds that go to helping pets in need.
This is why I felt so adamant that I needed to address the comment about neglect vs. pet fashion. How great is it that we don’t live in a world where it has to be either neglect or pet fashion? How wonderful is it that we can create a product cycle that supports pet causes and uplifts people and pets in the process? How cool is it that?
In closing, I want to say that it was a delightful, fun experience to appear on Fox Business’ “Markets Now” segment. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I have kept an open mind. I love being at the helm of International Association of Pet Fashion Professionals, which gives me tremendous opportunities to talk about pet fashion.