An IKEA branch in Catania, Italy not only provide furnishings for homes but also a home for stray dogs.
Response from customers, like Martine Taccia, praised them for their initiative. Martine went shopping at IKEA on a cold autumn day, and upon walking past a living room display, she saw dogs cozily snuggled up on the carpets.
Stunned by what she saw, Martine took a video, which she uploaded to Facebook and said:
"My reaction was pure amazement. It's not a common thing."
The store decided to give refuge to the local strays from the elements, especially with winter on the way. Furthermore, they also provide them with food and water, with the pampering shared between employees and customers. Martine added:
"Some dogs have even found a family, going home with customers."
In the video, no visible signage indicate IKEA’s Catania branch policy regarding dogs in need, but many other customers are impressed and appreciative of their kindness.
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Beppe Liotta, another customer, also commented:
"I felt a feeling of deep tenderness and great happiness in seeing dogs crouched in the exhibition space at the entrance of the IKEA."
Being an animal lover, Beppe expressed his hope that other businesses would do the same, that they would let those in need of help into their stores and hearts. Every act of kindness makes a difference.
The IKEA shopper, Beppy added:
"If all the stores that had space would make a place of refuge for strays, I would be really happy."
Project Freedom started in December 2016 and had the same objective as IKEA’s Catania branch; helping stray, homeless dogs. They just go about it in very different ways.
Behind the project is 7-year-old Roman McConn and his mum, Jennifer. On an Instagram video for ‘Project Freedom Ride,’ Jennifer described the event that set everything in motion:
"It kind of started on his fourth birthday. He opted to collect donations for a rescue that he saw outside of PetSmart on every other Saturday. He kept saying that they need homes and he kind of was like, ‘How can I help?’”
Before Jennifer and Roman moved from Texas to Washington, they got involved in volunteering at the local shelter and avidly worked at making videos to help network the dogs.
A joke made by Jennifer once they settled into their new surroundings in Washington, became what the foundation is all about today.
Jennifer jokingly spoke about an underground railroad to transfer dogs from Texas to Washington. Texas had so many homeless dogs with grim futures, and Washington had so many people wanting to adopt it seemed like the logical thing for them to do. And they did. In the last two years, they have rescued over 1,000 dogs from kill shelters.
IKEA is growing from strength to strength. Officials announced on November 20 that their biggest store is set to open in the Philippines in 2020.
An astonishing 65,000 square meters big, the Philippines branch will be big enough to fit 150 basketball courts and close to double the size of a typical store.
According to the future store manager, Georg Platzer, the branch is well located at the SM Mall of Asia, in the Manila Bay area. Only 2 floors will be used for mortar and brick retail, the remaining 3 floors will be dedicated to a call center that will handle the e-commerce side of the business, and a warehouse.
About the possibility of other stores in the Philipines, Georg said:
"After we get our learnings we'd soon expand that so, of course, the idea is that one day, we'll have good service to the Philippines. It's a 120 million country. I came from Austria with 8 million people. We have seven stores. Now you do your calculations."
Swedish furniture maker IKEA has 422 operational stores in 50 markets.