Anyone who has ever experienced the tragedy of losing a pet will know just how devastating it can be. For one couple, though, the experience was even worse when they lost both their dogs in one fell swoop. However, just days later, they got a message that was surprising beyond words.
Those who have had an animal leave a paw print on their heart will know that their companion is much more than a pet. Indeed, losing an animal that you truly treasure is like losing a member of the family. In these times, comfort and support can be invaluable. Receiving compassion from a total stranger, however – as this couple did – is something else entirely.
The married couple were the proud owners of two black Labradors, who were tragically killed in an accident on the road. Things can only have seemed worse when they got a pet food delivery from Chewy.com. It was an 80-pound reminder of the loss that they had experienced and the mouths that they would no longer be feeding.
Upon receiving the order, the couple contacted Chewy.com to explain what had happened. They asked if they could return the dog food to the company and get a refund, minus the cost of shipping. What Chewy.com did next, though, came as a surprise.
Laura Waltenburg, the woman’s sister, would in fact go on to share the company’s uncommonly generous response on Facebook. She wrote, “They responded with unbelievable kindness. They credited their credit card for the full purchase price and asked them to donate the dog food to a local shelter.”
The thoughtfulness shown by Chewy.com did not stop there, however. Following the company’s response to her brother-in-law’s email, Waltenburg described how the bereaved family had received another message. “They sent a second email requesting a picture of one of the dogs to put in their memorial book to honor her,” she wrote.
Following these impressive acts of kindness, a bouquet of flowers sent by Chewy.com then arrived on their doorstep. It was a bunch of red roses, sent to pass on the company’s condolence following the passing of the couple’s dogs.
Waltenburg’s Facebook post has been shared over 230,000 times so far and has received close to 7,000 reactions. She has also been inundated with sympathetic comments and messages from Facebook users who wished to show their support and encouragement for the couple.
The company’s staff also spoke of its good deeds. Chelsy Burk, an employee of Chewy.com, wrote, “They do an amazing job taking care of our fur babies. The pups love coming into work too. All the extra attention, you’ll never catch them complaining.”
The generosity and compassion that Chewy.com showed to Waltenburg’s family in their time of need was not an isolated incident, though. Indeed, many others have shared their own stories about receiving support from Chewy.com after losing a beloved pet.
In December 2016, just three days before Christmas, Sheree Flanagan was devastated when she lost her dog, Zoe. Flanagan described her grief to People magazine. “Losing Zoe was terrible – we had her for 10 years,” she explained.
Soon after that, though, tragedy struck again. Flanagan’s 15-year-old cat, Thor, died on January 30, 2017. “When Thor died, that was crushing,” she told People. “He lived with me in New York, then California and now here [Dallas, Texas]. He was always my number one boy. I’m tearing up just thinking about it.”
In events that mirrored the experiences of Waltenburg’s relations, Flanagan contacted Chewy.com to ask if she could send back unwanted cat food in exchange for a refund. Instead, she found herself having an emotional conversation with an employee at Chewy.com, named Ashley.
Flanagan told People about the kindness that she was shown by the woman who took her call. “Ashley was amazing,” Flanagan said. “She told me she had a cat put down and really understood. I kept saying that I didn’t mean to bother her, and she kept saying, ‘No, this is important. Tell me more.’”
Shortly after their telephone conversation, Flanagan and her family received their money back from Chewy.com. Then, days later, a bouquet of flowers arrived at their home. The card delivered with the flowers read, “With deepest sympathy on your loss of your little ones. We’ll always be here through the sad times and to remember the good memories your furbabies left on your heart. Love – Ashley and the Chewy family.”
Sheree’s husband, Sgt. Corey Flanagan, also shared his feelings about the company’s response. “Your team has either got it in their bloodline to be exceptionally kind and understanding, their leadership has done exceptionally well in guiding them or a combo of both,” he told People. “My wife has been taking their loss especially hard, and when we received the flowers we decided it was enough for both of us both to decide to stop shopping around and give Chewy all our future business.”
But there are many more similar tales. Indeed, stories of compassion expressed by Chewy.com employees to support bereaved pet owners have been shared by families across the United States. Another couple to experience Chewy.com’s kindness were Bruce and Sue Stack from Edwardsburg, Michigan. They were devastated when they suddenly lost Jake, their 6-year-old Great Dane.
Jake’s sudden death left a recent food delivery untouched: a memento to the family’s loss. Sue Stack hence contacted Chewy.com to cancel the family’s regular order. She told People, “I called Sunday afternoon, and by Sunday evening I had a note of condolence, a credit for the food and a request to donate the food to an area shelter. I came home from [work] Tuesday evening, and there were flowers. I thought some of our friends sent them, and I realized they were from Chewy and thought, ‘This is crazy! What an amazing company.’”
So what makes Chewy.com so compassionate? Kelli Durkin, the company’s Vice President of Customer Service, explained to People that Chewy.com aims to go above and beyond for pet owners. “[After hearing about a woman who lost her dog,] we thought of sending a sympathy card, but we knew we had to do more. And that’s how it really started for everyone. We don’t feel like we’re talking to customers. We are talking to pets’ parents. We want to hear the good and the bad. We are feeding their children. We are part of their families.”
And the company clearly succeeds in making a connection. Laura Waltenburg was so moved by what Chewy.com did that she felt it was her duty to share her sister and brother-in-law’s story with the world. Indeed, she concluded her Facebook post by saying, “I wish I could tell everybody this story. This is the kind of story that needs to go viral. This is an incredible company.”