Pets and People – Better Together

By Friday, October 28, 2016

Dig this… a portion of this post is sponsored, but opinions are my own and 110% “pawthentic”!

When you think of an iconic pet brand, Nestle’s Purina surely comes to mind.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the red and white checkerboard square because it’s a brand I grew up with. In the 70’s and 80’s we fed our pets Purina Dog Chow and Cat Chow. When I began my career in the 80’s at the SPCA Tampa Bay, Purina sponsored a Senior Pets for People Program that helped citizens over age 65 adopt healthy pets at no cost. And when I got my first horse in the 90’s, we went to the feed store with the big checkered sign every single week to pick up hay and feed.

Pets and People - Better Together!I can say that the company still holds a special place in my heart because of these memories and positive experiences I associate with it.

Clearly, Purina has a long history as a leader in the pet industry, but for the pet food giant to remain relevant and iconic with today’s consumers, millennials in particular, they’ll have to go beyond showing that they can lead the race for nutritional innovation, quality, and safety.

They’ll have to continue to do good things for pets and people and make sure we know about it. Today’s consumers are looking for brands that have a positive impact on their lives.

The “Better with Pets” Summit

better with pets summit

“I’m just here for the treats.”

Along those lines, I recently joined dozens of experts and leaders in the pet community at the fourth annual Better With Pets Summit in Brooklyn, NY to learn what Purina is up to with their new #LetsLiveBig initiative.

Of the three panels presented, the one that resonated the most with me was the session titled, “How a Passion for Pets Builds a Better World.”

Allow me to share four programs Purina is funding to connect pets and people in order to build stronger communities, improve the health and wellbeing of pets and people, and, ultimately, shape a better world.

Pet Therapy at the Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic has been endorsing the positive role pets play in human health since the 1940s. Brent Bauer, MD,  is the research director for Integrative Medicine and Health Programs at the Mayo Clinic. His primary interest is the scientific evaluation of complimentary and alternative medicine therapies. At the Summit, Dr. Bauer announced a formal partnership with Purina that will support a new study with Fibromyalgia patients and therapy pets. The goal is to find out what happens to people and to the pets when they are paired together for healing.

For more information about the Mayo Clinic and its use of pets as an integrated approach to healing, check out this article about pets and wellness on their news network.

The Family Pet Center at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital

Steve Dale photo bombing Dr. Marty Becker and me!

What’s a conference without a good photo-bombing picture? Steve Dale dropped in on me and Marty Becker.

“We do what’s right for kids,” said Flip Becker, senior director of the Hospital Foundation, after announcing that a gift from Purina enabled the building of the Purina Family Pet Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

The Center opened earlier this year and includes “touch dogs” that are trained therapy dogs who reside at the hospital. It also offers opportunities for family pets to visit the children in the hospital’s care. These pets are lifting kids up and dissipating anxieties related to treatments and hospitalizations. As a matter of fact, doctors are actually “prescribing” that family pets be allowed to come up to see a child who may need to stay in their hospital room.

Click here for more information on St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the opening of the Family Pet Center.

Mutt-i-gree Curriculum at North Shore Animal League America

Purina also supports the “Mutt-i-grees” Curriculum, which initially began as an initiative to promote the adoption of shelter animals and has blossomed into an avenue of teaching empathy and compassion to school children. The goal of the “Mutt-i-gree” Curriculum is to make a generation of youth into the responsible adults of tomorrow.

This program capitalizes on children’s natural love of animals in order to promote valuable social and emotional skills. The curriculum has been adopted by over 1,000 schools in 36 states.

Joanne Yohannan, senior VP of operations at the North Shore Animal League, has seen first hand how the program has impacted the lives of children, including one boy whose experience led him to choose a career working as a military dog handler.

PALS Program at The Urban Resource Institute (URI)

The PALS (People and animals living safely) program is the first domestic violence program in the city of Manhattan to accommodate family pets. Two-thirds of women murdered in this country die at the hands of an intimate partner. And 48% of abused women say they won’t seek safety if they have to leave pets behind.

Better with pets

This incredible program currently shelters 600 women and 40 pets. Purina continues to support this initiative that affects our most vulnerable communities. During a session break at the Summit, we were given the opportunity to assemble “care packages” for future victims seeking the safety of the shelter with their pets.

Through its support of URIPALS, Purina is helping to raise awareness about the impact of abuse on the entire family—including pets—and reduce barriers to escape and recovery. For more information, visit URI’s website.

By backing these and other programs, Purina is helping to raise awareness and take advantage of the amazing impact that a partnership between people and pets can have. Together, humans and animals can make a difference, because the world truly is better with pets.

Join me in sharing how your own pets are helping you live bigger lives by sharing the #LetsLiveBig hashtag in your social posts.

This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions and anecdotes are my own, and I never promote any products or brands I don’t believe in. ~Petfully yours, Kristen

I am a firm believer in the power of the amazing human-animal bond. To learn more about the personal benefits of bonding with your pet, click here to download your free copy of my new ebook: “Bond With Your Dog for a Healthy Mind, Spirit, Body, and Community.

Bond with your dog