When most people think of vodka, dogs are among the last things that come to mind, but Tito’s Handmade Vodka is an exception to that rule. The company has always had a strong connection with dogs and other pets. From many employees adopting pets to the company partnering with various rescue organizations to help pups in shelters find homes, when you look at the atmosphere and company culture of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, dogs are never far away.
Table of Contents
- Nonprofits Recognize the Problem and Finding a Solution
- Vodka for Dog People
- Giving Back to Dogs in Any Way They Can
- Tito’s Employees’ New Co-woofers
- Coming Home: Stories of Canine Transport
- Tito’s and Wings of Rescue
- Tito’s and Mission Miracle K9
- Tito’s and Pilots N Paws
- Tito’s Helps More Than Just Dog-related Nonprofits via the Brand’s Philanthropic Arm Love, Tito’s
- The Web Store – Yet Another Example of Tito’s Giving
Nonprofits Recognize the Problem and Finding a Solution
There has been a dramatic rise in adoption lately, especially within the past eight months. Even with adoption reaching an all-time high, there are still plenty of dogs searching for their “fur-ever” homes. Shelters around the country, especially in the Southern states, are still incredibly overcrowded. This comes from a combination of factors, including natural disasters combined with lax practices regarding spaying and neutering. The thousands of strays throughout the South alone live in overcrowded shelters that don’t have the resources to care for the dogs properly.
Meanwhile, other areas of the country have fewer dogs in shelters but a higher supply for adoption. Various rescues and nonprofits have made it their mission to bring these dogs from regions with overcrowded shelters to the Northern areas where they have a better chance at finding a new home. These groups include Wings of Rescue, Mission Miracle K9, and Pilots N Paws.
These nonprofits transport the dogs in any way they can. Some volunteers and nonprofits regularly take cross-country road trips with six or more dogs in a van or car. Others fly planes across state lines with 50 pooches or more.
As Ric Browde, the President and CEO of Wings of Rescue, puts it in the “Coming Home” video series, he wants to go out of business. But that can only happen when all dogs are spayed and neutered, so he doesn’t see himself having the chance to retire anytime soon, and he will keep fighting for the dogs.
So, where does Tito’s Handmade Vodka fit into these efforts?
Vodka for Dog People
Tito’s Handmade Vodka has a program it calls Vodka for Dog People, which has worked with hundreds of rescue organizations. Tito’s has had its strong commitment to protecting and rescuing animals for more than two decades, and the mission is still going strong.
The vision driving Vodka for Dog People is to improve the lives of pets and those of their families, whether they are close to home or across the country.
Making a Real Impact
The Vodka for Dog People program does not just do its best to help transport pups and find them homes, but it succeeds in this goal. Every year, the program connects with more than 800 nonprofits related to pets.
Giving Back to Dogs in Any Way They Can
Through Vodka for Dog People, Tito’s Handmade Vodka helps dogs and gives back to the community in nearly any way that it can. The program helps these nonprofits accomplish their goals via both volunteer work and donations. Employees regularly spend their time, and the company donates its time as well. Tito’s also contributes to these rescues, ensuring they have enough funding to get the dogs to the regions where they are more likely to find a home.
Vodka for Dog People regularly participates in and helps with events, missions, and campaigns from these organizations. The program’s team and financial contributions help fill in any gaps that the nonprofits are dealing with. It could be physically helping move dogs, planning the logistics of transport, or helping fund their efforts.
In addition to directly giving financial donations to the various pet-related nonprofits across the country, Vodka for Dog People helps with fundraising efforts. This is an excellent way for Tito’s Handmade Vodka to give back in a way that is even greater than what the small company can financially afford to give.
Tito’s also works with other similar nonprofits, such as Rescue Centre (BARC) St. Kitts, Austin Humane Society, and more. These efforts are part of the company’s attempts to find all the homeless animals in its communities a home and stop the cycle of strays.
Tito’s also works closely to help Emancipet, a nonprofit vet system that offers low-cost vet care. It started with low-cost spay, neuter, and wellness services in a mobile trailer and now has centers in four Texas cities. It operates on the idea that everyone should be able to provide their dogs veterinary care, even if there are no options in the area.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka’s distillery still regularly has stray dogs that come for a visit. Emancipet and Tito’s work together to ensure those pups get the proper care and help them find new homes.
Tito’s Employees’ New Co-woofers
During the pandemic, many of Tito’s crew members found themselves a bit lonely as they were unable to interact with other crew members. Many of them decided to adopt a new office mate they call their “co-woofer.” Some chose to adopt and provide dogs (and a few cats) fur-ever homes, while others picked to foster and help even more animals.
Dogs Are Always a Part of the Tito’s Team
During normal times when most of Tito’s Handmade Vodka team is working in the office, the crew’s dogs feel right at home heading into work with their humans. The company regularly has a “co-woofer” of the week, complete with a featured blog post on the website.
Additionally, Tito’s Handmade Vodka proudly lives by the mantra that every day is taking your dog to work day. This is a tradition that began with the founder, Tito, and continues. Tito began distilling his vodka with canine support from DogJo, who was the company’s first “co-woofer.” The current resident distillery dog is Taki, but crew members are always encouraged to bring their co-woofers with them.
Coming Home: Stories of Canine Transport
Recently, Tito’s Handmade Vodka took the time to create a series called “Coming Home: Stories of Canine Transport.” This series highlights the work that the nonprofits it works with do to help transport canines.
There are two main goals of the series. Vodka for Dog People hopes it will help raise awareness of the problem, which should hopefully encourage people to make changes and help the dogs. The series will also hopefully serve as a fundraising effort for the nonprofits involved. In this way, it can directly fund future flights that bring dogs across the country and increase their chances of finding a family to love.
Tito’s and Wings of Rescue
Wings of Rescue is a nonprofit that transports pets that are in disaster areas or overcrowded shelters, bringing them to safe havens and eventually their new homes. The shelters that welcome the pups have enough open space to care for them, and no local pets from shelters are ever displaced by the organization’s efforts. The organization works across the country, including in Puerto Rico and even in The Bahamas.
Wings of Rescue was founded in 2012. In 2020 alone, the organization flew 8,597 pets across 243,724 miles to get to safety. In addition to 6,376 dogs, this number included 2,159 cats, 38 guinea pigs, 23 rabbits, and a three-legged mouse. The nonprofit also transported 40,290 pounds of relief for pets and people to natural disaster victims in 2020.
Examples of Specific Efforts
In addition to general partnerships, donations, and volunteering, Tito’s works with Wings of Rescue at other times. To celebrate National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month in October, for example, Tito’s matched donations made to Wings of Rescue, up to $12,500. Those funds all went to transporting pets from areas damaged by Hurricane Harvey.
Highlights From Coming Home: Wings of Rescue
To get a better feel for the combined efforts of Wings of Rescue and Vodka for Dog People, you should watch the short video “Coming Home: Wings of Rescue.” In the meantime, here are some highlights.
The video starts in New Orleans, with Ric Browde, the Wings of Rescue President and CEO, explaining that Louisiana and Mississippi are hit by most storms, making it hard on dogs, especially thanks to the pet overpopulation issue.
The video highlights some of the areas that were hit by heavy flooding from hurricanes, like Houma, Louisiana. You get to see the process of arranging a shelter to take in one of the pets and their impact. This includes the emotional reactions of the shelter workers who struggle so hard to find homes for dogs, especially ones like Clyde from the video, who is deaf.
From there, we go to McComb, Mississippi, which was also hit by a tornado in addition to hurricane damage. The McComb Animal Shelter representative flat out says that meeting Wings of Rescue was the best thing to happen to the shelter. She pointed out that not only do the animals Wings of Rescue transport get saved, but the process also frees up a spot for the shelter to save another dog.
We can see the “magic and chaos” at the McComb Pike County Airport, where all the dogs are organized in crates and carefully loaded into the plane. Everything is color-coded and organized, loading the plane as much as possible without any safety risks.
Transporting the dogs by plane means the trip only takes hours, instead of days. They are soon in Madison, New Jersey, at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Shelter, ready to find their new homes. Within a few days, most of them will already be in their new homes.
Tito’s and Mission Miracle K9
Mission Miracle K9 has the goal of giving dogs the opportunity to find their forever homes. Between just 2015 and 2020, the nonprofit moved thousands of dogs from high-kill Texas shelters. These dogs went to shelters in the north with lower kill rates and more space. Many of them went right into the arms of their new families.
This organization primarily transports dogs by driving, with lots of help from volunteers. Most runs have 35 to 40 dogs, while some have up to 50. The long distances involved and multiple moving components means that there is almost always an obstacle.
Highlights from Coming Home: Mission Miracle K9
The “Coming Home: Mission Miracle K9” video starts in San Antonio, with Matt Montes, the director of the organization. He explained that he started bringing his efforts to the city after seeing a dog that had a home lined up, but his new human couldn’t take him in until the next day. Meanwhile, the shelter was going to euthanize it that night. Montes saved the dog and delivered him to his new human.
Montes realized he needed to keep helping dogs in San Antonio because that situation seemed to be “normal” for the city. According to other Mission Miracle K9 representatives, the problem comes down to Texas’s very high population of strays. While there is such an overwhelming number of stray or unwanted dogs in Texas, there is a strong demand up north. While amazing dogs were getting euthanized in the south, people in the north were waiting to find one.
The trip highlighted in the video involves bringing 22 dogs to PAWS Animal Shelter, which is slightly north of Seattle. They carefully time their departure times to try to avoid the harshest heat of the day. The route is scenic and beautiful, with few other drivers on the road.
The issue for the transport highlighted in the video was a major one, the truck dying over a hundred miles away from their destination. Luckily, Beth from Vodka for Dog People and the other people involved at PAWS Animal Shelter were able to drive to where the truck died and bring the dogs to the shelter in multiple cars.
Rachel Bird from PAWs lets viewers know that in 2018 alone, Matt and Mission Miracle K9 transported 215 dogs to their shelter and a total of around 400 dogs to local shelters in the area in the year 2019.
The dogs are all ecstatic, energetic, and happy to have arrived at their new shelter, where they will have a better chance at life.
Tito’s and Pilots N Paws
This organization combines the efforts of local shelters and volunteers to help dogs find their forever homes. Pilots N Paws includes volunteers who are pilots or plane owners and other volunteers who want to help rescue, shelter, or adopt animals. In fact, we did have an article that goes deeper into Pilots N Paws' mission.
One of the primary roles of Pilots N Paws is facilitating organization. Via message boards and forms for both requesting and volunteering, the nonprofit helps those who want to transport animals in need with those who have the means to transport them. The organization has saved more than 150,000 animals.
Highlights From “Coming Home: Pilots N Paws”
This entry in the “Coming Home” series highlights another flight-based animal transportation agency that Vodka for Dog People works with, Pilots N Paws. The video starts in Chicago with Christopher Frederic, a rescue pilot for the organization and a host of “Fred + Angi Mornings” on the radio. He had seen a news story about the organization and signed up right away. In the video, we drive with Christopher down to Gary, Indiana, to get his plane. Then he flies to Lexington, Kentucky, to meet a doggie mom and her two pups that were with Mandy’s Mission. They carefully loaded the dogs into the plane, and Christopher flew them back to Gary.
From there, Magnificent Mutts Rescue picks up the dogs from the airport. They will make sure the dogs are in good health and find them homes. The dogs and humans involved are all delighted and full of smiles when they get off the plane. According to Christopher, the dogs seem to be able to tell that they will be safe and loved.
Christopher talks about what he calls the misunderstanding about why organizations like Pilots N Paws bring animals to other areas of the country. He explains that part of it is overpopulation from lack of spaying or neutering, weather conditions, and other factors. Those areas don’t have enough resources to care for the dogs, but other areas of the country do. The organization moves dogs from these areas with limited resources to those with enough.
For Christopher, it is vital to help the various rescues involved, as they are frequently small. Many of the rescues are just one person or a small handful of people. These people tend to be so selfless in his eyes. He says that, in a perfect world, this problem would not exist, but at least Pilots N Paws and other organizations can help the dogs get the care they deserve.
Linda Latelle, the founder of Magnificent Mutts & Meows Rescue, explains that they always take in animals that need help. They take them to get checked by a vet and get age-appropriate care, including vaccines and spaying or neutering.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka’s efforts help the community go beyond its work with dog transportation rescues. The company regularly volunteers with and donates to other worthy causes. There is always a donation form on the website where nonprofits can request assistance, whether they need a financial contribution or assistance for in-person events.
Giving Back Has Always Been a Part of the Business
Even in the very early days of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, when the company was still struggling, Tito would donate when asked. It started with one local nonprofit asking for a few cases of vodka donations for fundraising purposes. Tito gladly supplied it and realized that these efforts could help him support the local community while also spreading the word about his vodka.
Tito’s encouraged people to tell others not only about the vodka they tasted from these donations but also that the company would gladly donate vodka to other nonprofits as well. As such, giving back has always been part of the company philosophy.
Tito’s has responded to more than 20 natural disasters affecting the United States since 2015 alone. This includes in the form of support for organizations that deliver relief.
For example, starting in March 2020, Tito’s started producing hand sanitizer. The company has already donated more than 1,155 tons. These donations have gone to frontline works, nonprofits, and community giveaways in 48 states.
Block to Block
With Love, Tito’s Block to Block program, Tito’s is helping create community farms and gardens in dozens of local markets nationwide to provide locals with increased access to healthy foods. These efforts began with Tito’s farm on the distillery but have since expanded to work with nonprofits across the country, building community gardens and farms for those in need.
The Web Store – Yet Another Example of Tito’s Giving
The Tito’s Handmade Vodka web store is yet another example of the giving that the company makes a part of its daily business. All of the net proceeds from the web store benefit various nonprofits that it supports.
For Dog Lovers
Those who want to support animal nonprofits or show off their love and appreciation for dogs will find plenty to choose from in the web store. There is a rubbery ball dog toy, squeaky toys in the shape of Tito’s Handmade Vodka bottles made by PrideBites, and a T-shirt or sign with a heart, a bottle of Tito’s, and a dog. Dogs can also get decked out with a kit that includes a bandana, collar, and leash.