NEW CASTLE — It turns out that pet lovers are people lovers, too — especially in Lawrence County.
Local patrons have wholeheartedly embraced PetSmart’s Luv-A-Pet Adoption program that gives 10 percent of the purchase of its stuffed animals to organizations that care for homeless animals. But it doesn’t stop there. Often those same customers donate the toys back to the store, which donates them to local organizations.
Lisa Snyder, manager of the PetSmart chain in the Union Plaza, said her staff regularly informs customers about the program and how it benefits people as well as animals.
“My team has been so passionate about this,” Snyder said.
She added that customers have jumped at the chance to help both people and animals.
“Certain customers came in every week to buy one,” she said. As of Monday, more than 400 stuffed animals had been purchased and then donated by PetSmart customers.
According to Snyder, the Union store, which opened last June, ranked No. 1 among other PetSmart locations in percentage of transactions in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico for November. The program will end Dec. 31.
The local benefactor this year is Patches Place, located at 21 N. Mill St., a behavioral health consumer and family support and resource center that serves Lawrence County, covering nearly all aspects of life from the basic needs to social, economical, educational and supportive assistance.
Angela Hagberg, director of the Next Step Center that is affiliated with Patches Place, said the stuffed animals will be distributed at various places, including Jameson Hospital and the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County. “This is a difficult time for anyone dealing with mental illness,” Hagberg said. “We just hope to brighten their day.”
PetSmart Charities created the In-store PetSmart Adoption Program because each year more than 10 million pets are abandoned in the United States. About 65 percent enter shelters, but the remaining 35 percent are euthanized because they do not have homes. Its website says “PetSmart Charities creates and supports programs that save the lives of homeless pets, raise awareness of companion animal welfare issues and promote healthy relationships between people and pets through adoption, spay/neuter initiatives, emergency relief programs, and our Rescue Waggin’ program.”