Purina Dog Chow is teaming up with actor, producer, dog lover and longtime military supporter Wilmer Valderrama to recognize the finalists in Dog Chow's first-ever Visible Impact Award, celebrating the remarkable impact PTSD service dogs have on veterans' daily lives. The award is part of Dog Chow's 5thannual Service Dog Salute program, which highlights the life-changing benefits that service dogs provide to veterans experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
From now through October 17, 2022, dog lovers can join in selecting the first-ever Dog Chow Visible Impact Award winner by voting on the selected finalists at DogChow.com/service. For every vote, Dog Chow will donate $5 to the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans, up to $75,000, to help train more PTSD service dogs at no cost to veterans. The Grand Prize winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize and $25,000 for the organization that trained the service dog.
"After having the privilege of meeting so many service men and women over the years and hearing their stories, supporting our military has become one of my greatest joys," said Valderrama. "They give so much to serve our country, so I'm honored to partner with Dog Chow on the Service Dog Salute campaign to give back to our veterans–to acknowledge what they went through and how their posttraumatic stress service dog is helping them heal."
Visible Impact Award Finalists
The Visible Impact Award finalists were selected based on those who best illustrated the life-changing impact and unique skill set of a well-trained PTSD service dog. The five finalists include:
- Trigger/Midwest Battle Buddies–helps U.S. Navy Veteran Rebekah by sensing the beginning of a panic attack or when Rebekah is having difficulties "getting back to reality."
- Raphael/Hero's Puppy For Life–helps U.S. Air Force Veteran Bernard by performing a "standing hug" - a unique version of compression therapy–to quell anxiety or panic attacks.
- Bjorn/Northwest Battle Buddies–helps U.S. Army Veteran Derek by breaking him away from the spiral of negative thoughts through the art of interruption by demanding to be pet.
- Ivy/ Operation Freedom Paws–helps U.S. Army Veteran Todd with her ability to smell a change in Todd's body chemistry when the veteran is in a crowded social situation and starts to be hypervigilant, angry or anxious.
- Liberty / Paws for Purple Hearts--helps U.S. Army Veteran Carlos by applying a wide variety of skills to help mitigate Carlos's PTSD symptoms, such as performing deep pressure therapy by laying her tow front legs and head down on Carlos's lap when the veteran experiences anxiety.
Service Dog Salute $1MM Donation Milestone
Roughly 3.5 million military veterans suffer from PTSD, and while service dogs are demonstrated to reduce the severity of PTSD symptoms and suicidal behaviors, only 1% of those in need who seek a service dog receive one each year. Dog Chow has been on a mission to help, and this year will mark $1 million in donations to service dog organizations since the start of the Service Dog Salute program in 2018. These donations help support the care and training of more service dogs for veterans with PTSD at no cost to the veterans.
To vote for the Visible Impact Award winner and for more information about the Service Dog Salute program, visit DogChow.com/service.