It costs money to start any business, and that includes a dog kennel or training business. There may be grant money available to help if you are opening a dog boarding facility, but you have to know where to look and how to apply.
What Is a Grant?
A grant is money that does not have to be repaid. A grantmaker (the provider of funds, also called a grantor) can be a government department or agency, foundation, trust, corporation or individuals. Grantees (who receive the funds) are usually, but not always, nonprofit entities such as charities or educational institutions. Businesses and individuals can also receive grants.
Start at the Public Library
Check with your local public library to find out if they have a subscription to a database called Foundation Directory Online. If your library branch does not have a subscription, they can probably refer you to another library in the local or regional system where you can access the database at no charge. Purchasing a database subscription yourself will cost $49.99 a month plus tax.
Grants for For-Profit Business
Grantmakers do not often give money for business startups, but there are exceptions that can apply to a dog kennel or training business. If you are a veteran, a woman or a member of a minority group, there may be money available to you. Likewise, if you will be employing individuals from a traditionally underserved group, you may also qualify for grant funds. It all depends on the grantmaker's interests.
Funding a Good Cause
Grantmakers exist for the betterment of society. They want you to show how you will use grant money to better others, not just yourself. If you state that you want to open a kennel because you love dogs, that's not going to be enough. However, if you state that your kennel will partially serve to house rescues from a kill shelter or that your training center will help rehabilitate dogs that are considered unadoptable, you have a much better chance of getting grant funding.
Choose the Right Grant Maker
Find grantmakers whose mission aligns with yours. A grantmaker who funds health care screenings for the poor will not give you money for a dog kennel or training business, no matter how well your grant is written. Look for grantors who fund animal causes or those who fund small business startups, particularly if an underserved demographic (such as minority teenagers) will benefit.
ASPCA Grant Monies
The American Society for the Prevention Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is one of the largest grant-making animal welfare organizations in the U.S. Since 2008, the ASPCA has donated more than $100 million dollars to non-profit, government and municipal agencies. Get a link to an ASPCA grant application on the organization's website.
ASPCA grant monies support a wide range of activities, including the following:
- Animal shelter and rescue grants
- Relocation programs
- Spay/neuter programs
- Conference sponsorship and scholarships for education and training of animal welfare professionals
- High-volume adoption events
- Emergency and disaster response
Petfinder Foundation Grants
Petfinder, in addition to running its adoption website, has several grant programs available to non-profit organizations. Each grant program has its own application portal, which you can find on the Petfinder website. Current grant programs include:
- Disaster relief: From $500 to $10,000, for animals affected by severe weather or natural or manmade disasters
- Dog field trips/short term fostering: $500 for supplies such as leashes, collars and food and water bowls
- Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship: Unspecified amount, to cover the tuition cost for shelter personnel and volunteers to attend a "Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship" session to develop skills as handlers and trainers
- Emergency medicine: $100 to $1,000, for animals needed special veterinary care in order to become adoptable
- KONG Toy Grant: Unspecified amount, to provide enrichment toys to shelters and adopters
- Orvis Animal Care Grant: Up to $1,000, used to keep adoptable dogs happy and healthy while awaiting adoption
- P.L.A.Y. Pet Beds: Unspecified amount, to provide luxury beds to shelter pets
- Play Yard Renovation: Up to $5,000, to construct or improve play yards at shelters where staff have completed or are scheduled to complete Dogs Playing for Life training
- Purina New Year, New Home: Up to $2,000, for reduced or waived adoption fees, to make more pets adoptable
- Senior Pet Adoption: Up to $1,000 to promote the adoption of a senior pet
- Petfiender Adoption Options in Action Grant: Unspecified amount, and open by invitation only to Petfinder members who have attended an Adoption Options workshop in the current year
- Foundationcenter.org has a database that lists more than 100,000 of the largest grant-awarding foundations and donors in the U.S. This is a great way to find out which companies have grants available for the public.
- When seeking government and private grants, it is important to look professional.
- Never use grants in an unethical manner, as grant fraud is serious and can lead to terrible legal problems.
Denise Dayton, M.S., M.Ed. is a freelance writer specializing in careers, education and technology. In addition to writing for corporate clients, she has published articles in Library Journal and The Searcher.