AF pet care, supply company comes to aid of animals affected by wildfire - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

AF pet care, supply company comes to aid of animals affected by wildfire

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Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 3:33 pm, Sat Dec 22, 2012.

Pet Superbarket, a small Ahwatukee Foothills-based pet care and supply company will be fulfilling one mission of their business much sooner than they expected.

After receiving a forwarded email from a friend on Monday, Brock Nelson said he couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t stop thinking about the more than 100 animals displaced by the Monument Fire near Sierra Vista that were in need of help. His help.

The original email, sent out by real estate agent Cathy Swann, was a call to action. The company she worked for, United Brokers Group of Chandler, had contacted the Arizona Humane Society to inquire what could be done to help the animals. Food, wire crates and blankets were all needed.

Nelson spent the night brainstorming and by the next morning he was texting Swann with a plan.

With a start-up company only a few weeks old and a Facebook group that had only three “likes” Nelson and fiance, Virginia Chavez, decided social media was the best way to raise awareness for the cause.

For every “like” received up to 300, Pet Superbarket would donate 1 pound of dog food to the Arizona Humane Society shelter in Huachuca City.

The temporary shelter was set up to house people’s pets after they were evacuated from or lost their homes.

In disasters such as this it can be very difficult for owners to find a place to stay with their animals.

“I wanted to do as much as I could, but we’re a start-up and don’t have a ton of money,” said Nelson, who was concerned that they would only get a handful of “likes.”

Nelson, however, had no way of knowing that he had just tapped into the power and passion that the employees of United Brokers Group had to offer.

President of the company, Jeff Sutherlin, said he was happy to set his sales team to work promoting the Facebook dog food donation drive.

By the end of the day the number of “likes” on the Pet Superbarket page had soared to well over 300 and the company had realized one of its goals: To help animals in need.

“We were floored by the response,” said Nelson, who expected that they would probably know 90 percent of the people who “liked” them. Instead, it was closer to 10. Random strangers from all across the country showed their support by clicking. Those closer to home gave what they could.

“I feel that our little animal friends need as much help as possible,” said Tim Hadlock of Ahwatukee, who was planning on dropping off dog food and treats.

Nelson estimates that Pet Superbarket will furnish more than 300 pounds of dog food, 40 pounds of litter and 20 pounds of treats with a combined value of close to $500.

He credits the cooperation among several organizations for the success, and said that he would not have been able to pull it off on his own.

“This is bigger than just one event, though,” said Nelson, who feels that donating pet food is an idea that can be expanded on and incorporated into a larger business model. He intends to start by pledging one cup of food for each bag the company sells through its home delivery service.

“Sometimes pets can be an afterthought,” Nelson said, “they’ve gone through a lot as it is. This isn’t easy for humans or animals alike.”

That sentiment is echoed by the others who have pulled together to help the victims of the fire. Dirks Moving Services donated the use of a Mayflower truck to haul the provisions.

United Brokers Group gave an additional $500 to the effort and Sutherlin will personally accompany the caravan to Huachuca City to see what else can be done.

“We just have a passion for giving back to the community. We have some serious needs in our state right now, be it people or animals,” said Sutherlin, who added that his company is already looking into adopting families left homeless by the blaze.

For more information, email lovepets@petsuperbarket.com or call (480) 639-4101. For future donations to animals displaced by the wildfires, visit www.azhumane.org/wildfire.

• Morgan Sailor is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.

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