A new partnership will help more wounded veterans get access to and information about a potentially life-changing assistance dog. PetSmart for Patriots is a joint endeavor between PetSmart and Canine Companions for Independence, in support of Canine Companions' Wounded Veterans Initiative to help partner assistance dogs with the military veterans who need them. Since 1992, Canine Companions has placed 102 assistance dogs with military veterans, with the number of dogs placed tripling since 2008. Many of those dogs have been placed with men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and returned with spinal cord injuries, limb amputations and deafness.
"This program is very personal to me-as a combat veteran, I know how hard it is to come back and transition to civilian life," said Bruce Thorn, PetSmart senior vice president of store operations and services. "It is that much harder to transition when you've been injured. To be able to have a service dog who loves you unconditionally and is able to help you live a better life, is priceless."
PetSmart is teaming up with Canine Companions not only financially, but also to raise awareness of assistance dogs among veterans. In the next 6-12 months, veterans with disabilities will be able to visit any PetSmart store and learn about Canine Companions and what they need to do to get their own assistance dog. In addition, a number of patriotic-themed services in PetSmart stores will roll out in the summer of 2014 to honor the nation's brave men and women in uniform. A portion of proceeds from special grooming packages, PetsHotel services and training activities will benefit Canine Companions.
"Canine Companions is pleased to team up with PetSmart to help expand the reach of our Wounded Veterans Initiative and ensure that all dog lovers-whether they're veterans or not-are aware of the important work that assistance dogs can provide," said Corey Hudson, CEO, Canine Companions for Independence and a Navy veteran. "Over 50,000 servicemen and women in the U.S. military have been wounded since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hearing loss is the most prevalent service-related disability for military veterans and an assistance dog can significantly improve these veterans' lives."