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Giving back to society is this company's pet cause
A GROUP of seniors at the Kreta Ayer Senior Activity Centre can look forward to visits by friends of the four-legged kind every Chinese New Year.
In 2012, Pet Lovers Centre (PLC) made its first trip to the centre to aid the seniors there with pet-assisted therapy. Due to its popularity, it has been an annual programme during the festive season.
PLC needs no introduction to lovers of fluffy companions. A home-grown brand, it was started by brothers Robert and David Ng, whose love for animals since childhood led them to open a store dedicated to pet food and accessories.
The brothers opened their first outlet at Shaw Centre in 1973, where it still stands. Today, it is just one of 100 stores in the region, which includes 65 in Singapore. The others are in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei.
The second generation of the Ng brothers has taken over the reins since 1995, which kick-started the company's regional expansion.
As business grew, so did the need to give back to society.
The company is a "strong advocate of responsible pet ownership", and being a specialist in the pet animal industry, the company decided on a multi-pronged effort to support charitable causes in their own unique way, says head of marketing communications Karen Koh.
In 2009, PLC established its non-profit arm, the Pet Lovers Foundation. It takes care of the company's charitable outreach in its mission to serve the community under 3Ps - Pets, People and Planet. According to PLC's website, the foundation contributes financially to animal welfare groups in Singapore, as well as assists in their fundraising efforts.
PLC allocates part of its funds and profits to these initiatives to support animal welfare groups (AWGs), says Ms Koh.
"We've focused on these groups, especially the AWGs, because they need all the help they can get," she says. "Our resources are not limitless so we try to help as many groups as possible."
Despite running a business selling pets, PLC champions adoption as part of responsible pet ownership. One of the company's top charity drives is the Adopt 1st! Initiative (AFI), which aims to find homes for stray animals.
Previously known as the Adopt 1st! Centre, the AFI was formed in 2011 to provide AWGs a way to help the animals under their care find good homes via adoption drives. The company has helped 243 animals get adopted in the first quarter of 2017.
The company's Common Cause Calendar, which has also proven to be a hit, was relaunched this year due to its success in 2016. The Animal Lovers League (ALL), Causes for Animals Singapore (CAS), Cat Welfare Society (CWS) and Exclusively Mongrels are beneficiaries of the initiative.
For S$10, anyone can buy the calendar which showcases the different breeds of dogs and cats in Singapore, as well as important information about each of the four AWGs.
According to the company's website, the calendar project raised a total of S$92,514.70 in its 2017 edition. Each AWG received a portion of the project proceeds, which help them with shelter upkeep and veterinary care costs.
Feeding animals under the care of AWGs takes effort, and to help defray some of the costs, the company organises an annual pet food drive.
Close to a decade old, PLC says the programme is still running strong and gaining support each year. Ms Koh says to date, the company has raised 120,844 kilogrammes of pet food for AWGs.
"We're seeing that more and more people want to help and consequently, more AWGs are being helped," she says. The programme has become so popular that PLC Malaysia has begun its own pet food drive, which has seen "much success".
Aside from pets, PLC also focuses on helping the needy as part of its holistic approach to charity. Non-profit organisation (NPO) Club Rainbow is one of the NPOs that PLC supports, and the fundraising drive has, as at mid-July 2017, collected S$5,828.60 from donation boxes placed at all PLCs shops.
The company looks to engage its customers too, in participating in its charity drives, she says.
Taking the company's pet food drive as an example, she says the public is already taking part just by purchasing the Burp! and Trustie house brands, as proceeds from their sales are donated to the Foundation regularly.
In putting together the Foundation's initiatives, the company relies on the generosity of its staff. Some 172 employees have volunteered for its corporate social responsibility programmes to date, a number which the company hopes to grow.
"While it is not the entire PLC workforce, we were able to complete a significant number of projects and activities," says Ms Koh.
Charity is an essential element of Pet Lovers Centre, says Ms Koh, and every employee at the organisation is made aware of it through training and "experiencing it at the ground level".
"When an organisation expands globally, every component must follow, including its social responsibilities."
- This article is part of a series covering companies contributing towards under-served causes.
The Business Times supports NVPC's Company of Good programme as media partner. Go to www.companyofgood.sg for more information. Company of Good is in support of SGCares, a national movement dedicated to supporting the goodwill of Singaporeans and to guide them to better help those in need.