Willow wandered into Wodonga on Tuesday to thank a long-running business for helping guide dogs to grow up big and strong.
An ambassador guide dog herself, Willow and owner Karen Hayes, the chief executive of Guide Dogs Victoria, took a tour around Mars Petcare’s head office in Petcare Place.
They joined a group of Guide Dogs Australia state chief executives and marketing staff who visited the site to celebrate the 50-year partnership between the two organisations.
Mrs Hayes said this shared history began in the 1960s with the then-Uncle Ben’s.
“The relationship really came into its own in 1969 when Pedigree Australia donated a million dollars to Guide Dogs Australia to build our very first breeding centre, which still exists in Kew,” she said.
A similar investment followed in 1993 while the company also contributes about $450,000 annually towards feeding guide dogs and puppies.
“Mars now provides all of the dog food for all of the guide dog schools around Australia,” Mrs Hayes said.
Many of the guests had not visited Mars Petcare before and were “blown away”.
“To see behind the scenes of what goes on here in terms of the quality of the processes they use to produce their dog food and their cat food and the treats,” Mrs Hayes said.
“Together with the incredible staff and amazing culture that this organisation has towards quality and customer service.”
Mars Petcare HR director Jim Brodie said the company took pride in its association with the well-known charity.
“Having the CEOs here from Guide Dogs Australia is a really great reminder to us of why we’re here as a business,” he said.
“It also is a great reminder to us about the really important role that pets have in our lives and there’s no better example of that than the important role that guide dogs play in our society.”
Staff members also supported Guide Dogs Australia through fundraising, for example in the current Pawgust campaign that encourages owners to walk their dogs 30 minutes a day for 30 days.
Mrs Hayes said Guide Dogs Australia thanked Mars Petcare for helping to raise the best possible guide dogs.
“Healthy, happy and able to support people who are blind or have low vision to lead independent lives,” she said.
“That’s what’s important to us and it’s great that Mars is part of that journey.”
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