Petfood Forum 2013 will feature dogs from CHAMP Assistance Dogs, an organization in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, that trains and provides assistance and therapy dogs for people in need. The dogs will appear on Tuesday, April 16, after the conference opens with a keynote address by Kerri Morgan, a Paralympian and winner of two bronze medals at the London 2012 games. Morgan will be accompanied by Twix, her public access dog provided by CHAMP.
CHAMP stands for Canine Helpers Allow More Possibilities, and the organization's mission and initiatives support that name. Its programs include:
- Service dogs—dogs trained to provide home service, home therapy assistance, public access assistance or to support in facilities. These service dogs are provided free of charge to people who need them.
- The CHAMP program—the organization works with inmates at the Women's Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Vandalia, Missouri, USA, to help them learn how to train therapy and rescue dogs. The program, the first of its kind in Missouri, also helps the offenders-trainers learn positive interaction, job-related and social skills while giving back to the community.
- Therapy dog teams—a CHAMP-trained dog and its human partner visit healthcare facilities to provide animal-assisted therapy or animal-assisted activities.
- Education program—visits to schools and adult community groups educate the public about types of disabilities, their impact on people affected and how service dogs can help mitigate the effects of living with a disability.
Participants in Petfood Forum, which runs April 15-17 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel, can interact with the CHAMP dogs and donate to their programs if they wish. Their appearance is sponsored by Trouw Nutrition USA. Savings on registration to Petfood Forum 2013 are available through February 1.