By Luke Netzley

Pasadena Weekly Deputy Editor

After two years in a global pandemic that has seen many people and communities around the world isolated from one another, the importance of love and companionship has gained a new vitality.

As part of its Love Stories campaign, Petco Love has partnered with BOBS from Skechers to invite adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives during the pandemic. The grants go to the organizations from which they adoped their pets.

“We really want to give back to these hardworking animal welfare organizations that do so much every day to save pet lives, so this is our way of giving back and not just celebrating pet adoption, but the spirit of giving during this holiday too,” said Petco Love Public Relations & Internal Communications Manager Jennifer Perez.

On Dec. 8, Los Angeles animal welfare organizations I Stand with My Pack of Studio City, and Pasadena-based Bunny World Foundation Inc. were surprised with checks from Petco Love during a ceremony at Petco, thanks to stories from area residents.

“We choose stories that really focus on how a pet has changed a person’s life, and these stories really capture that,” Perez explained. “We have a range of stories like these, for example, where the pets inspire the adopters and truly make their lives better.”

I Stand with My Pack, which received a $6,000 check, is a nonprofit that focuses on the removal of dogs from high-risk kill shelters across California and assists them through the rehabilitative process so that they can find a home.

“Petco Love’s reinvestment in rescue operations means completing the cycle by reenforcing our frontline efforts to save the life of amazing companions and complete families in our neighborhood with their dream pet,” said Aleksandra Schiffer, founder and president of I Stand with My Pack.

Bunny World Foundation was the second grant recipient, receiving a $5,000 check in support of the all-volunteer nonprofit’s mission to use public education, media attention, rescue efforts, and legislation to combat animal cruelty, illegal animal sales, exploitation, and neglect.

The love story for Bunny World Foundation was submitted by recent college graduate Hannah Manikowski, who wrote a story about how her adopted rabbit changed her life by being a companion to her when she moved to a new city.

“Our goal is really to change lives by making communities and pet families closer, stronger, and healthier with this campaign in particular,” Perez said. “It’s about celebrating how the love of pets can change everything.”

In addition to I Stand with My Pack and Bunny World Foundation, Petco Love granted $1,000 each to LA-based organizations Kitty Bungalow and the Little Lion Foundation, giving an overall total of $1 million in Love Stories awards. It celebrates 100 love stories between adopters and their pets across the country this year.

“These heartwarming love stories really reflect the importance of pets in our lives,” Perez said. “I think these past two years with COVID-19 really showed that. And so, we at Petco Love, hope that by others reading these touching stories, they can join our mission to create a world where every shelter pet can find a loving family.”

Alongside its Love Stories campaign, Petco Love has awarded the Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation and Los Angeles Animal Services with $25,000 each as part of its holiday special initiative with Petco.

“They do such great work in the Los Angeles area to help pets find loving homes,” Perez said. “Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation is going to use those funds for their rehoming program to help keep more pets together with their families, and Los Angeles Animal Services will use that for their enrichment programs for their pets.”