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Local Pet Valu helps pair disabled veterans with service dogs

The Herald - 3/14/2017

Pet Valu is expecting March to be its best month yet to raise money for veterans needing service dogs. Visitors to the pet store located at 160 Summit Avenue in Circleville can donate to benefit America's VetDogs, which provides service dogs free of charge to disabled veterans.

America's VetDogs is a non-profit group that has partnered with Pet Valu for the promotion since 2014. It takes more than $50,000 for the organization to assign a service dog to a veteran.

"Depending on what their disabilities are, they're able to have puppies trained pretty much from birth once they're able to start a training program," said Anna DiGregorio, director of marketing for Pet Valu. "They actually train the dogs to be able to help that specific disability and then that dog is paired with that veteran at no cost to the veteran."

In order to receive a service dog, applicants must be active military, honorably discharged vets or first responders who are visually or hearing impaired or physically disabled. They must also demonstrate that they are able to take care of the dog. Applications can be sent from the Pet Valu website at us.petvalu.com.

DiGregorio said that the large turnout last year was in part because of the fast expansion in the number of Pet Valu stores. She said that the company has 315 locations as of this March, compared to just 230 last year. The increasing number of stores lets them reach more donors.

The company has focused its growth in the Mid-Atlantic and in the Midwest. The Midwest alone raised about $35,000 for the promotion.

The average donation is $3 but, according to DiGregorio, many customers will choose to donate more. DiGregorio and the company is optimistic about the amount it will raise this year.

"The number could be $200,000 this year, depending on how well customers are receiving the message in-store that are wanting to donate," DiGregorio said.

In a statement, Katherine Fritz, director of development at America's VetDogs said, "This fundraising program not only helps raise much-needed funds, it helps us raise awareness in the community about the services we provide to veterans and first responders with disabilities."

 
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