Camp Bow Wow is the nation’s largest doggy daycare and boarding franchise, but company President Christina Russell knew there was still more that she could be doing to take care of man’s best friend. She completely transformed the company’s Bow Wow Buddies Foundation, a non-profit fundraising initiative, and refocused the organization on providing urgent medical care funds to dogs who are either homeless or whose parents cannot afford to pay their veterinary bills. Funds are distributed through grants up to $2,500.
According to their website, “Each year, countless pets are denied urgent medical care simply because their parents cannot afford the treatment costs. For struggling pet parents faced with this impossible choice, the Bow Wow Buddies Foundation is a lifeline that can ease the financial burdens of treating their sick or injured dog—and potentially prevent the heartbreaking loss of their furry loved one as a result. When the going gets ruff, the Bow Wow Buddies Foundation helps support the health and happiness of our four-legged friends to keep them in their forever homes.”
In 2016, The Foundation raised over $150,000 and was able to provide 60 deserving dogs across North America with a new ‘leash’ on life.
We had a chance to talk with president Christina Russell about the foundation’s impact.
Dustin Clendenen: What is the inspiration behind the mission of the Foundation?
Christina Russell: Camp Bow Wow is committed to quality care for all animals, not just our own Campers. Far too often, pets aren’t able to get the medical care they need simply because their parents cannot afford the treatment costs. The Foundation is a lifeline for pet parents faced with this heartbreaking situation. We provide grants so that these dogs can get the care they need and stay with the family they love. We also provide grants to shelters and rescues with dogs needing medical treatment before being available to adopt to help more dogs find their fur-ever homes.
DC: What has been the most memorable and impactful grant you’ve provided?
CR: A particularly memorable grant recipient was Nutmeg. Shortly after being adopted, Nutmeg tested positive for heartworm, which if not treated can be fatal. As a single mother, Nutmeg’s mom did not have the resources to cover the treatment costs and felt completely hopeless. She learned of the Bow Wow Buddies Foundation from a local vet and immediately applied for a grant. Knowing that Nutmeg would not have received this treatment without the Foundation and that she can now live a long and healthy life with the family she loves makes all of our efforts worthwhile.
DC: What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a president running a foundation in tandem with your business?
CR: Narrow down your mission so it is clear, timeless, and easy to communicate. We used to raise money around a variety of one-time causes, but we found it was hard to build momentum. So we shifted in 2015 to a singular, on-going focus of helping families who cannot afford necessary medical treatments for their pets. That one change increased our fundraising by 500% and allowed us to make a difference for a lot more families.
DC: What’s next for the foundation?
CR: In 2016, we helped over 60 sick and injured dogs so we want to continue growing that number and helping even more dogs in 2017. We are hard at work planning creative and engaging fundraising programs on both the national level and for our local Camp locations to help grow awareness of the Foundation, encourage more grant applications and lend a paw to dogs and families in need.