For the past two years, Matthew Heinemeyer and Danian Rios have worked hard to show how T-shirts can make a difference in the world.
Arm the Animal is a charitable clothing company conceived by Matthew Heinemeyer following the sudden passing of his older sister, Karen, in 2009. Karen helped raise Heinemeyer and taught him the special dynamics that happen between animals and humans.
Arm the Animals creates clothing and accessories that not only raise awareness for animal welfare, but it also donates to small, struggling animal rescues. A generous amount of proceeds go not only to partnering shelters but also to other organizations aimed at animal rescue and welfare.
“She was always there to help me out in every way, shape and form,” Heinemeyer said. “I had always wanted to do something truly special for her, but never got the chance. Her passing impacted me greatly and after going through this event, I dedicated myself to finding a way to commemorate her. I did not know exactly how I was going to do it, but after months of brainstorming, the idea for Arm The Animals came to me.”
Heinemeyer, along with his friend Danian Rios, started Arm the Animals out of their apartment at the beginning of 2011.
“We were both completely broke the night Matt told me about the idea,” Rios said, “but I had about $40 left on my Amex, so I tossed it to him and told him to buy the URL. It all started there. We contacted our CFO Rigo Diaz and he backed us in getting our first shirts printed.”
Rigo Diaz, the CFO of Arm the Animals, said one of the main draws of joining Heinemeyer and Rios, was the passion they exhibited for the cause and for making a difference.
“They work tirelessly to get the word out about what these shelters are doing, while continuing to come up with cool designs that will get a larger audience to pay attention,” Diaz said. “It’s not easy, but they love it!”
According to the mission statement located on the Arm the Animals website, four million to five million animals are euthanized every year due to animal owners not providing basic care for their pets.
“It’s no longer an option to spay, neuter, feed, water and love your pets — it’s mandatory!” the statement said. “If you make the decision to own an animal, you should at least have the heart to make sure they are healthy and cared for! I think we can all agree on that.”
Many of the shelters that Arm the Animals helps are smaller operations. Their contributions have helped these shelters buy months of supplies of food and medical care for critically injured animals.
One of the company’s long-term goals, Rios said, is to say they have donated one million dollars to animal rescues and shelters, as well as possibly start their own rescue.
“Our long-term goals for this company are big!” Heinemeyer said. “Based solely upon the success we encountered thus far and the responses we receive from customers across the planet, we feel that we can become a good-sized clothing and apparel company. We believe in our mission and in our products greatly and so far, so do a large number of people.”
The large number of people believing in the mission of Arm the Animals includes actors Travis Wade, Ashley Greene and Shannon Elizabeth and musician Zac Brown, to name a few.
“The one thing we want people to know is that we truly do care about our mission,” Heinemeyer said, “and that we truly do support our charitable partners. From day one it’s been about the charitable mission.”
Heinemeyer hopes that exposure to Arm the Animals will generate charitable involvement in society. Arm the Animals have created a promotional code especially for BYU students. Should they decide to purchase from the website, they can use the promo code ATABYU20 to receive 20 percent off their entire purchase. For more information about Arm the Animals, visit armtheanimals.com.