Petco Foundation Awards More Than $2.7 Million in Grants to United States War Dogs Association and Search Dog Foundation

Investments will return and reunite military working dogs with their handlers and give shelter dogs new life through canine search and rescue disaster training program

Aug 12, 2015, 06:00 ET from Petco Foundation

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 12, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The United States War Dogs Association has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Petco Foundation to return, reunite and provide medical care for retiring military and contract working dogs serving overseas with their handlers.

Each year thousands of dogs serve at home and overseas in all branches of the Armed Forces with loyalty and honor. Currently these dogs may be retired in the country in which they are located and if overseas, they do not have access to military transport to return home.  Proposed legislation will ensure that all military K9 handlers would be guaranteed the opportunity to be reunited with their canine partners.

Until that time the Petco Foundation, in recognition of the unique and special bond that forms between handlers and their dogs, is supporting the work of the United States War Dogs Association to assist returning soldiers who wish to adopt their dogs with transport home and ongoing medical care, and to help other war dogs that have served our country.

"There's a bond that forms from the moment you meet your dog," says Ron Aiello, president of the United States War Dogs Association. "You can almost read each other's minds. It's a special bond that doesn't end with your tour of duty and we're so happy to be able to bring these dogs home."

The United States War Dogs Association grant comes on the heels of a $2.5 million investment on behalf of the Petco Foundation to build a new training facility at the Search Dog Foundation's National Training Center (NTC) in Santa Paula, Calif.

This facility, where rescued dogs will learn to be rescuers, will be the first-of-its-kind in America and will provide a training ground for search and rescue teams throughout the nation to work with their canines in an environment that simulates real disaster conditions such as a train wreck, an earthquake zone and a rubble pile. 

"Saving shelter dogs and transforming them into heroes highlights the true potential of these smart canines and inspires others to partner to save lives. We couldn't be more proud to help make the Search Dog Foundation's amazing vision come to life," said Susanne Kogut, executive director, Petco Foundation. "The transformative impact that these dogs have on so many lives is nothing short of heroic, and our partnerships with the Search Dog Foundation and the United States War Dog Association will ensure these courageous heroes are well-prepared for this important work and rewarded with a loving home after their years of service."

*Visual assets available upon request.

About Petco Foundation
At the Petco Foundation, we believe that every animal deserves to live its best life.  Since 1999, we've invested more than $125 million in lifesaving animal welfare work to make that happen. With our more than 8,000 animal welfare partners, we inspire and empower communities to make a difference by investing in adoption and medical care programs, spay/neuter services, pet cancer research, service and therapy animals, and numerous other lifesaving initiatives. Through our Think Adoption First program, we partner with Petco stores and animal welfare organizations across the country to increase pet adoptions. So far, we've helped more than 4.2 million pets find their new loving families, and we're just getting started. Visit petcofoundation.org to learn more about how you can get involved. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or by using the hashtag #PetcoFoundation.

About United States War Dogs Association
The United States War Dogs Association, Inc. is a nonprofit organization of Former and Current U.S. Military Dog Handlers and supporting members committed to supporting our Military Working Dogs and their handlers, promoting the long history of the Military Working Dogs, establishing permanent War Dog Memorials, and educating the public about the invaluable service of these canines to our country. Our background in Military War Dog service and our dedication to honoring the memory of the service and sacrifice of the U.S. Military Working Dogs gives us a unique perspective that we can use to educate the public on the history of Military War Dogs. Today, we not only support U.S. Military Working Dogs when they are on Active Duty and deployed around the world, but we continue to support these War Dog Heroes in their retirement years through our many programs.  For more information, visit us at: www.uswardogs.org.

About Search Dog Foundation
Founded in 1996, Search Dog Foundation (SDF) is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization based in Santa Paula, CA. Its mission is to strengthen disaster response in America by partnering rescued dogs with first responders to find people buried alive in the rubble of disasters. The organization was founded by Wilma Melville, a retired school teacher who was deployed to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 with her FEMA-Certified Search Dog, Murphy. Returning from the deployment, she was determined to do something about America's severe shortage of Canine Disaster Search Teams, and created SDF to address this problem. Since then, SDF has recruited hundreds of rescued dogs, and trained 163 Search Teams that have deployed to 127 disasters and missing person searches.

Contact: Reba Collins, (210) 262-0462, reba.collins@petco.com 

Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150812/257795LOGO

 

SOURCE Petco Foundation