Working the weekend for our four-legged friends

by Ciera Choate

Patrons and volunteers mingle outside south Charlotte’s Great Harvest Bread Company for Animal Kneads Day. Great Harvest employees worked Sunday – usually their day off – to raise money for the county’s Animal Control Spay And Neuter Clinic. Supporters raised about $12,000 at the Sunday, Aug. 21, event. (Ciera Choate/MIM photo)

People from across Charlotte came together Sunday, Aug. 21, to raise money and awareness for Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control.
Great Harvest Bread Company, 6420 Rea Road, hosted Animal Kneads Day for the fifth consecutive year, raising about $12,000 to help fund free spay and neuter services to those who are unable to afford them.
There is no system to determine who receives free spay or neuter service for their animal. Animal Control operates on an honor system.
“We help whoever needs help,” Melissa Knicely, Animal Control’s public information specialist, said.
Euthanasia rates in Mecklenburg County dropped from 12,823 in 2010 to 11,790 in 2011, according to Animal Control.  Jeff and Janet Ganoung, owners of the Great Harvest Bread Company, decided to host this event as a way to reduce those numbers even more.
“This actually works out to be a win-win-win,” Jeff Ganoung said. “If we can raise the awareness for why spay and neuter is important and lower the socioeconomic barrier, this will lower the unwanted homeless animals, which will lower the burden on the police department for going around and collecting, housing and euthanizing these animals.”
The Ganoungs began hosting this event in 2006 at their South Kings Drive location.  After hosting it there for two years, they moved it to the newer Rea Road location.
“We’re big-time animal lovers, and the euthanasia rates in Mecklenburg County are just terrible,” Janet Ganoung said. “Nobody wants to do that, but there are so many homeless animals that they just outwear their welcome at the shelters.”
Every cent of every dollar raised at Animal Kneads Day goes to Animal Control.  The owners donate all the ingredients, some employees donate their time by working for free and members of the police department donate their time as well.
Although the Great Harvest Bread Company hosts the main fundraiser, many other organizations come out to support the cause.  There are pet day-care services, adoption groups and many other organizations.
This is not the only fundraiser the Great Harvest Bread Company takes part in throughout the year. The Ganoungs host one other event, and they also participate in about 55 other events throughout the year by providing bread to the people that attend.
“We set up a tent, open our table up and give bread away,” Jeff Ganoung said. “That’s our way to make the event more fun so that people want to come out and bring their kids and family.  It’s good for them because each year that we participate it raises awareness for their cause.”
The couple believes they have a duty to give back to their community and make it a better place.
“We believe that businesses should exist to make their communities better,” Jeff Ganoung said. “Yes, you have to make a profit.  We’re a place to give young people an opportunity to learn something and make some money. I have no problem with making money, but it shouldn’t be only about making money.
“Business is a game, and money is the way that you keep score.  So keeping score is important, but you should never confuse the score with the game.  The game is the game, and you need to run that the best way that you can.  Be honorable with people, make the best product that you can, be generous with people.  Yes, you’ve got to keep track of the score, but never run the business looking at the score, or you loose track of the game.”

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