When Tito’s Handmade Vodka owner Bert Beveridge was developing a successful vodka business in 1997, little did he know he would mix work and pleasure adding dogs into the business formula.
The San Antonio native developed the program Vodka for Dog People after noticing people abandoning their pets around the distillery. Since then, these unwanted pets are suddenly treasured as the company’s team is committed to rescuing and protecting the animals that have arrived serendipitously and give them forever homes.
In the meantime, the animals are under 24-hour care in the distillery and offices. Since then, they have helped 70 dogs.
“It was an automatic involuntary function. We didn’t mean for it to be our mission, it was just a way of life,” said Elizabeth Bellanti, program manager for Vodka For Dog People. “It was never a formal discussion, just an evolution.”
The amount of love Austin has for animals hit new heights since 2010 when Austin City Council unanimously passed a No-Kill Implementation Plan. This requires the Austin Animal Center (AAC) to maintain a greater-than-90 percent live outcome goal.
AAC has saved more than 90 percent of the more than 18,000 pets that come through its doors each year. Nationally, the average save rate in shelters in 2015 was 68 percent and in Austin and Travis County, it was nearly 95 percent, according to the AAC.
In order to maintain the pet population in and outside their offices, Tito’s carries a strong partnership with Emancipet. The nonprofit makes resources including high-quality spay/neuter and veterinary care affordable and accessible to all pet owners.
For the past 19 years, The organization managed an expanding national network of high-quality, low-cost clinics; offer customized training and consulting programs to animal welfare organizations nationwide; and advocate for strategies and public policy that improve the lives of pets in underserved communities. In return, Tito’s sells dog related merchandise on their website to help Emancipet.
“Along the road, we also find more people who want to help us and promote. The more organizations we find the better,” continued Bellanti. “Spay and neuter is the number one vision for our platform making it so affordable that it’s a not an issue when getting a pet. We are trying to empower the people who could not afford.”
San Antonio has also taken strides to become a no-kill city. In 2017, The City of San Antonio Animal Care Services (ACS) closed out the fiscal year responding to 98,000 calls for service requests and impounding more than 30,000 animals into the shelter. On the placement side, ACS has found live release for 91 percent of all the pets brought into to the shelter including dogs, cats, goats and guinea pigs, going on the grid as no kill.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka also participates with an estimated 1,000 Animal Welfare non-profits a year including The Humane Society. During the 2018 San Antonio Cocktail Conference, the company partnered with the Humane Society to put pets for adoption while serving cocktails including The Greyhound and Take a Walk.
Tito’s Vodka will be here again to kick of the Fiesta season at the Taste of Republic event taking place on April 19 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Marriott Plaza. Tito’s will be sponsoring a “Doggie Rescue Room” where attendees can shop and adopt dogs that have been rescued by CARE as well as enjoy delicious dog-themed cocktails.
As for the future of Vodka For Dog People, they hope to continue their mission to mix vodka and the dog culture.
“I hope that we get ten times the partners so that our impact becomes bigger. I hope we have more people join in on the mission. I mean that city by city, to do our best everywhere we go,” concluded Bellanti.
For more information, visit www.titosvodka.com/dogs.