Q: I want to get a few things for my pets, while also helping others. Can you recommend a few pet products from companies that also support charitable causes?


A: My colleague calls pets the most popular members of the family. I can personally attest to Lulu being the VIP of my household. The occasional biscuit or squeaky toy seems like a small gesture in exchange for the laughter and love I get in return.


If you are looking for ideas to reward your four-legged friends for the unconditional love they deliver every day of the year, consider these gifts that also pay it forward for pets and the planet.


Freddy's Feather Wand Cat Toy ($6.93 at Amazon.com)

Even pets can stand to reduce their carbon paw prints. Freddy’s biodegradable wand toys help cats burn calories and celebrate their hunting instincts, while protecting Mother Earth. Stock up on replacement feathers, just in case your little one is prone to pounce.


Big Daddy Biscuits ($5 to $15.50)

When Atlantan Lauren Janis decided to foster the stray dog found wandering near a federal penitentiary, she had no idea that pooch (aka Big Daddy) would symbolize second chances for her and other pets. As company mascot and head product tester for Big Daddy Biscuits, Janis’ pup also helped her carve out a new career path.


“People say I saved his life, but Big Daddy saved my life,” says Janis, who bought a mixer and started baking organic dog biscuits after being laid off from an airline job in 2008.


Now the dynamic duo spends weekends at Georgia farmers markets, building a loyal following for their “Flee Flea Cheese Bites with Garlic” and “Dinner Mints” made with activated charcoal to aid digestion. Janis makes each biscuit by hand, incorporating locally grown eggs, organic flour and fresh-ground peanut butter. She also pays it forward by donating treats to Operation Second Chance (aka Jail Dogs), which pairs adoptable pets with inmates at the Gwinnett County Detention Center in Georgia until they find a forever home.


Rescue Chocolate bars ($5.49)

Pets can’t have chocolate, but they can benefit from your purchase of gourmet Rescue Chocolate bars with fun names like “Mission Feral Fig,” “Fakin’ Bacon” and my favorite, “Peanut Butter Pit Bull.”


New Yorker Sarah Gross put her sweet tooth and her business acumen to work by creating a chocolate company that supports nonprofit animal rescue organizations. Chocolate bars feature a cute picture of Gross’ own rescued pit bull, appropriately named Mocha, and net proceeds benefit rescue groups such as the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti and the Humane Society of Miami.


Kitty Tumble Bed ($29.99)

Cats like to curl up and get comfortable — anywhere and everywhere they please. Tumble beds feature corduroy exteriors and super snuggly Sherpa interiors that help well-behaved kitties cuddle up and say purrr. Net proceeds benefit Best Friends Animal Society, a Utah-based animal sanctuary that serves as home to about 2,000 animals.


Nobbly Wobbly ($3.99)

Lulu has quite an assortment of toys, but a super-tough Nobbly Wobbly may just land on top of the pile. Hide treats in the holes of this colorful knotted toy, or let your fur kid focus on the tinkling bell inside. Forty percent of the purchase price benefits the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


Unexpected Pit Bull calendar ($18.99)

I’m a sucker for pet calendars, especially when the models have an inspirational story. Unexpected Pit Bull calendars raise money for organizations committed to advocacy, education and rescue for the breed. Find out if your animal shelter or humane society sells a calendar. If not, maybe it’s time to start one on behalf of your favorite pet-friendly organization. In a previous column, I offer a few other tips to pay it forward by helping pets.


All the best to you and your pets.


— Morieka Johnson


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