in Delray Beach. Henry, a 3-year-old golden retriever, lounges in his bed. His friend Lilly,
a 2-year-old Morkie, explores the office to find a place for a nap as Architec employees (l-r) Erin Yergens,
Jenna Sellers Miller and Megan Grennan work in the background.
Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Arden Moore
We are in the heart of the holiday season. And you have a choice. You can scramble to various stores and spend hours online to shop for gifts you hope will be well-received by your family and friends.
Or you can consider a powerful third option by purchasing items from companies committed to giving back to homeless dogs, cats and other companion animals. Locally, Jenna Sellers Miller is launching a holiday tradition in memory of Benny, her late, great otterhound mix she adopted from a Tallahassee shelter. He was just hours away from being euthanized because of shelter overcrowding.
As chief executive officer of Architec Brands, a company based in downtown Delray Beach, Miller is donating 5 percent of each product sale of her Totally Sweet Products line to Animal Aid Inc., a nonprofit, no-kill animal rescue shelter and adoption center in Oakland Park. This group takes in emergency, abuse and neglect cases as well as dogs and cats from animal control agencies in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Miller is calling her first pet donation venture the Bake for Benny fund. And Miller will donate 5 percent of all sales — not simply net profit — from items in her Totally Sweet Products brand. TSP is the new boutique line of bakeware tools and accessories by Architec Brands, a manufacturing company founded in 2000 by Miller’s mother, Kathleen Sellers. Its products are now available in major department stores and gourmet shops throughout the United States plus eight other countries.
Miller, who shares her home now with three former shelter dogs named Birdie, Chaney and Molly, is focusing on Animal Aid this time, but has bigger plans. She intends to expand her giving by divvying up the funds to more nonprofit animal charities in the coming years.
“Launching the new TSP line means a new avenue for us to give back,” says Miller, who runs a pet-welcoming office. “We have been wanting to do this for a long time and are ready to give back to pet charities and no-kill shelters that work so hard.”
Benny was her inspiration. Miller expresses it best:
“Benny was such a good dog, no, make that the best dog,” says Miller. “I found him on Petfinder.com 14 years ago. Something about his photo, his eyes that I connected with and I immediately called the shelter in Tallahassee where he was housed. They told me I better get him fast because he was scheduled for ‘destruction’ at 8 a.m. the next day.
“I was dating my now husband, Bryan, at the time and asked him if he would drive with me and he immediately replied, ‘Let’s go.’ We drove all night to Tallahassee and arrived at 7 a.m. to adopt Benny. He was a scruffy, smelly mutt and we stopped in Gainesville where we took him to a PetSmart store to get him groomed.
“Benny became our first office dog at Architec Brands, and passed away a couple years ago. He had a nice, long happy life and I will never forget him.”
If you would like to make this holiday a special one for animals in need, consider these ways you can make a difference for shelter animals:
• Volunteer to walk shelter dogs or play with cats.
• Donate spare towels, pet beds and blankets to an animal shelter.
• Offer to temporarily foster a shelter pet during the holiday season.
• Provide transportation for shelter animals needing to go to foster or adoptive homes.
• Spread the word. If you adopted a pet at an animal shelter, post his photo and your gratitude on your social media sites.
• Host a party for your pet and ask attendees to bring items that can be donated to shelters in lieu of gifts for your pet.
• Honor the memory of a beloved pet who passed away by making a donation in his name to a nonprofit pet group.
Take it from Miller. It feels good to give.
“Benny represents the inherent worth of all animal life and highlights the incredible work and devotion of those who dedicate their time to saving and improving pet lives,” says Miller. “This is a way I can honor his memory.”
BAKE FOR BENNY
Learn more by visiting the Bake for Benny website (www.je0711.wix.com/bake-for-benny), the Architec website (www.architecproducts.com/tsp/) and its designated charity beneficiary, Animal Aid Inc. (www.animal-aid.com/index.html).
Arden Moore, founder of www.FourLeggedLife.com, is an animal behavior consultant, editor, author, speaker and master certified pet first aid instructor. Learn more by visiting www.fourleggedlife.com.