In honor of Veterans Day, the third-largest pet retailer in the U.S. and Natural Balance Pet Foods are teaming together to raise funds for Rockwall-based nonprofit Patriot PAWS Service Dogs. The charity, which was founded in 2005, trains and provides service animals to wounded veterans free of charge. They will receive a donation of $50,000 when the fundraiser ends Nov. 26.
“Fundraisers, like the one organized by Pet Supplies Plus and Natural Balance, have a huge impact on our mission,” Sharon Satterwhite, director of development for Patriot PAWS, says, adding that support from the two companies alone has helped them place three service dogs with veterans over the last two years. “When you consider that a service dog not only improves the life of their veteran but also improves family dynamics and community relationships, the impact cannot be overestimated.”
Equally though, the resources required to train and providing service animals cannot be underestimated. Satterwhite says it can take as long as two years and as much as $34,000 to train and place each of their service animals. With hundreds of applications coming in every week and a lengthy waiting list of veterans, it’s difficult enough to fill the demand before factoring in Patriot PAWS’ reliance on private donations.
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During the fundraiser, a portion of proceeds from sales of Natural Balance pet foods at the 435 Pet Supplies Plus locations nationwide will go to Patriot PAWS, up to a total donation of $50,000. A representative from Pet Supplies Plus tells the Dallas Observer this is the third year the company has partnered with Natural Balance to raise funds for Veterans Day, including last year’s #PetsPlusVets campaign.
“Patriot PAWS, and founder Lori Stevens, do a great job supporting disabled veterans across the United States. From a small storefront start in Texas, all the way to placing 10 to 15 service dogs a year, it’s a group that we are proud to be associated with,” Pet Supplies Plus’ representative says.
Satterwhite, who was initially hired by Stevens, says working with the company has been an honor and a privilege. Since its founding, more than 130 dogs have been placed by the organization, with 10-15 dogs being placed every year. That simply would not have been possible without support from companies like Pet Supplies Plus and Natural Balance.
“When you work in a place like Patriot PAWS, amazing things happen on a daily basis,” Satterwhite says. “One of the most humbling things that happens, however, is when I pick up the phone and someone like Pet Supplies Plus says, ‘We heard about Patriot PAWS and want to help.’ The simple fact is, we could not do what we do without the help of friends like Pet Supplies Plus. We are grateful.”