Mars Petcare has launched a new program called Foster to Forever to help encourage pet adoptions and end pet homelessness. A number of celebrities are backing the program to help get the word out, including Katherine Schwarzenegger, Colton Underwood and LeAnn Rimes.
The idea was spurred by the uptick of foster care during the COVID-19 pandemic. While an estimated 40 percent of the country’s shelter population are currently in foster homes, shelters are bracing for a time when these pets may be returned or when other pets are surrendered due to financial hardships, officials noted.
"Now more than ever, people are turning to pets as a source of comfort and companionship, and as a result, we’ve seen record numbers of fosters," said Mark Johnson, president of Mars Petcare North America in Franklin, Tenn. "We’re in awe of the support being shown to pets in need during this global crisis and want to ensure that as many pets as possible find loving, forever homes. That’s why Mars Petcare is providing essential resources like pet food and veterinary visits to families who make their foster pet a permanent member of their family."
To kick off Foster to Forever, more than 10 pet-loving celebrities virtually welcomed people into their homes in late May through Instagram Live. While live, each celebrity shared an intimate look at life with their pet, including fun and heartfelt stories of some of their favorite activities together.
"Six weeks ago, I decided to foster Zooka," Underwood said . "That was one of the best decisions I could have made. Zooka quickly became a member of our family, and I just couldn’t see myself bringing her back to the shelter. I’m happy to call myself a ‘foster failure’ and honored to be part of the Mars Petcare Foster to Forever program to encourage others to permanently adopt their foster pet, if they’re able to."
Mars Petcare also distributed Foster to Forever kits to shelters around the country in some of the areas hit hardest by COVID-19 like Chicago and New Orleans.
In addition, kits will be given to more than 1,000 pet owners who are able to provide a permanent loving home to their foster dog or cat. The kit, according to officials, will include Pedigree wet food for adult dogs or puppies, coupons for free Pedigree dry food and Pedigree Dentastix treats, Temptations cat treats, Royal Canin dry and wet food for adult cats or kittens, a voucher for a free veterinary visit from Banfield Pet Hospital, a Wisdom Panel Essential dog DNA test, discounts for a Whistle GO pet activity tracking device, as well as educational information from Pedigree Foundation and the Better Cities for Pets program.
Banfield Foundation will also provide free veterinary services for up to 1,000 additional shelter pets while they await their forever homes, officials said.
"The Foster to Forever program is the first time Mars has brought together brands across all areas of the Petcare business, including Banfield, Pedigree, Royal Canin, Temptations, Whistle and Wisdom Panel, for one cause," officials said. "By bringing these brands in the veterinary health, pet nutrition and innovation spaces together, the company is continuing to drive its global purpose of ‘A Better World for Pets’ and helping to support pets and people around the country."