Press release: Freshpet
Freshpet is partnering with actress and animal rescue advocate Sarah Michelle Gellar to celebrate its fifth annual Fresh Start initiative. The program, which celebrates and rewards no-kill animal shelters, is open to the public through a submission process beginning today and running for two weeks. The Fresh Start program has distributed more than $400,000 to no-kill shelters across the country since it began in 2018.
Gellar, whose family has one rescue and two other dogs, will serve as a judge, helping select 16 shelters from across the country to receive funding, including one overall winner receiving $25,000, and five grand prize regional winners who will each receive $15,000. Other grants will be awarded, including 10 runners-up, two in each region, receiving $5,000 each. Submissions are open to the public from September 12 to 25 via the Fresh Start website. Following the submission period, winners will be announced the week of October 17.
“We treat our pets like they’re our kids; they’re such a big part of our family,” said Gellar. “We’ve always been big supporters of animal adoption because there are so many deserving animals that need good homes. And right now, the need is stronger than ever, with many shelters overcrowded and in need of support,” she added. “There are so many rescues doing incredible work across the country, so partnering with Freshpet to recognize and reward them is something I couldn’t pass up.”
According to Best Friends Animal Society, of the approximately 4,000 animal shelters in the U.S., only 52 percent are no-kill shelters, many of which operate with volunteer staff and via donations. Dollars donated through Fresh Start assist shelters with a variety of needs, from healthcare for animals and adoption support to operating costs and equipment. All funding awarded from Freshpet can be utilized at the shelters’ discretion.
“Fresh Start allows us to continue to unleash the power of giving to pets and people working to make their lives better,” said Steve Elwell, Director of Digital at Freshpet. “There’s an amazing network of animal shelters and organizations throughout the country that are championing the wellbeing of companion pets that can use our help, whether through volunteering or donations, and we’re happy that we can extend the Fresh Start initiative to help reward them for their work.”
Joining Gellar to judge this year’s program are pet influencer Tatum Talks, Freshpet’s expert veterinarian Dr. Aziza Glass, as well as shelter partners, St. Hubert’s and Pennsylvania SPCA. Freshpet has helped more than 160 animal shelters throughout the country as part of its work with no-kill shelters and anti-cruelty programs. Its advocacy efforts also include donations of more than 14 million meals.