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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Vodka, Dogs, and a Nonprofit Love Story
Rebecca Koenig - Chronicle of Philanthropy

October, 2015

The unlikely romance between a vodka company and a veterinary nonprofit can be distilled to one word: dogs.

After the eponymous owner of Tito’s Handmade Vodka brought stray dogs that turned up on his land outside of Austin, Texas, to Emancipet, the organizations formed a partnership. It’s raised nearly $13,000 and united both sets of employees around the mission of helping animals.

"You can tell we love each other a lot," said Amy Mills, chief executive of Emancipet.

Stray Dogs and a New Partnership

Founded in 1999 as a mobile veterinary clinic in Austin, Emancipet now has five Texas clinics. A sixth is planned for Philadelphia. It performs thousands of pet surgeries a year — 40 percent of them at no cost to owners — and trains other clinics to improve services and strengthen employees’ skills.

The nonprofit spayed and neutered the stray dogs Tito Beveridge — yes, his actual surname — took in. In return, his company donated drinks for Emancipet to use for its fundraisers.


"When a nonprofit asks for vodka to raise money, we usually say yes if we can do it," said Beth Bellanti, relationship-marketing manager at Tito’s.

As the vodka company grew, it opened an office "practically around the corner" from the clinic, Ms. Bellanti said. The distillery’s dog-friendly ethos — employees bring their dogs to work, and Mr. Beveridge is shown in advertising with a canine pal — meshed well with Emancipet’s mission. The nonprofit continued to serve Tito’s strays; the company has kept or adopted about 45 over the years.

The partnership, which Ms. Mills says evolved organically, was somewhat formalized two years ago with the creation of, a website that sells dog and human products, such as leashes, T-shirts, and toys, bearing Tito’s logo. The proceeds of the product sales — which make up most of the $13,000 in cash the company has donated — go to Emancipet.

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