Feeders Supply Helps KHS Adopt More Pets
In December Lynn Helten and her daughter, Megan, dropped by the Hikes Point Feeders Supply to buy Christmas gifts for their two rescue dogs. While there, they visited the Kentucky Humane Society's adoption center—and met Lady Bug, an 11-year-old Jack Russell mix who stole their hearts.
"We had no intention to adopt that day, but I just couldn't leave her," says Lynn.
Lynn brought the little dog with the graying muzzle home, and Lady Bug is now a much cherished—and spoiled—member of the family. Lady Bug returns often to the Hikes Point Feeders Supply to visit KHS adoption counselor Kimberly Dunlap, who jokes she has visitation rights to Lady Bug.
"Lady Bug completed our home," says Lynn. "I can't imagine our house without her now."
Stories like these are repeated every day at seven Feeders Supply stores. Since 1997, the locally owned, family run business has provided free adoption space to the Kentucky Humane Society. The value of all that floor space is approximately $100,000 a year, making Feeders Supply one of KHS' most generous ongoing supporters. All adoption counselors at the sites are KHS employees, and pets are available for adoption 361 days a year.
It's a relationship that allows KHS to take in more pets—and to save more lives. In 2012 KHS found homes for more than 6,000 pets: half were adopted through Feeders Supply locations.
"This partnership truly is unique and one that we are so proud of," says Lori Redmon, KHS president and CEO. "Without Feeders Supply, we would not be able to take in so many homeless pets. This is truly a lifesaving partnership."
The KHS-Feeders Supply relationship started in 1988, when Feeders Supply started "Picture Your Pets with Santa," an event to benefit the Kentucky Humane Society. Twenty-five years ago, many thought the idea was crazy—but pet owners came out in droves.
"It was amazing—people had never seen anything like it before," says Pam Gibson Longwell, Feeders Supply's president and CEO. "There was a three-hour wait, and we didn't know what to do to keep everyone occupied. I served coffee to people."
Building on this early relationship, the late Roy Gibson, founder of Feeders Supply, offered a permanent adoption site to KHS at his Springhurst store in 1997. It was the first time in KHS history that the nonprofit had a permanent adoption location outside of South Louisville.
It was also a novel idea for a pet retailer. At the time, no pet store in Louisville devoted permanent space for pet adoptions to a shelter, and few pet stores in the country had tried it. Most that offered cats and dogs still purchased them from breeders.
"My dad was very concerned about pet overpopulation, and he wanted to do something about it," says Pam. "We were never interested in buying and selling dogs and cats, and we have always supported the adoption option."
It wasn't the first time Roy was an innovator. When he founded the company in 1959, the company focused on livestock feed and grain for farmers, hence the name "Feeders Supply." But with the emergence in premium pet foods and changing views on companion animals, he saw a new business opportunity. In 1984, he opened the first Feeders Supply retail store on Baxter Avenue.
"At the time, retailing premium pet foods was a very unique concept, and no one else in Louisville was doing it," says Linda Brock, marketing director, who joined Feeders Supply in 1984. Linda also teaches pet food nutrition classes to all employees.
The retail store was wildly successful, as pet owners thronged to purchase products that provided better nutrition and increased quality of life. Superior products, excellent customer service, nutritional knowledge and fair prices helped make Feeders Supply the largest pet retailer in the Louisville area. By joining forces with the Kentucky Humane Society, Feeders Supply also found a new niche.
"When I meet new people and they find out I am president of Feeders Supply, the No. 1 thing they say is, 'you are the company that adopts out all those pets through the Kentucky Humane Society,'" says Pam. "It's something we are very proud of."
It's also something that is having a direct impact on homeless pets. With nine adoption locations—seven in Feeders Supply stores—KHS is the state's largest pet adoption agency.
"Feeders Supply allows us to have our pets in so many different neighborhoods across the Louisville Metro area," says Lori. "Many people will never find their way to our shelter's doors. Having adoptable pets in their community pet stores makes it easy and convenient to adopt."
For many Feeders Supply customers, that means falling in love with a cat or dog while they are picking up pet supplies. As Lady Bug's new owner can attest, sometimes love finds you when you least expect it.
The Event that Started It All
The relationship between the Kentucky Humane Society and Feeders Supply started 25 years ago, when they joined together to offer Picture Your Pets with Santa, a fundraiser for the Kentucky Humane Society.
Picture Your Pets has become an annual tradition for thousands of pet families who line up—often in costume—to have their photos taken. Always held the first two weekends in December, the event still benefits KHS, as well as a few other local animal shelters. It takes more than 400 volunteers to run the event, and KHS volunteers are in 10 of the 14 Feeders Supply stores.
The 2012 Picture Your Pets with Santa raised more than $52,000 for KHS' lifesaving mission. Some of the more unusual pets who had their photos taken were a sugar glider, snakes, rabbits and even a few horses.