Christmas came a few weeks early for Guide Dogs of Texas (GDTX), when the nonprofit received a $195,000 grant from the Petco Foundation on Dec. 4. Funds will benefit the organization’s programs that support clients who rely on a service dog to provide them with freedom, mobility and independence. The grant is a result of fundraising efforts sponsored by Petco and Natural Balance Pet Foods during National Guide Dog Awareness Month in September.
“Guide Dogs of Texas is honored to receive a portion of proceeds of the National Guide Dog Month awareness campaign hosted by two great companies – Petco and Natural Balance Pet Foods,” said Larry Tuttle, GDTX president and CEO. “Petco’s corporate presence in the San Antonio community makes this gift even more meaningful. We are privileged to share in the success of National Guide Dog Month fundraising and to be able to use this donation to increase mobility for Texans who are visually impaired.”
During National Guide Dog Month in September, pet owners were encouraged to visit their local Petco store and make a donation at the register or to purchase specially marked bags of Natural Balance Pet Foods at Petco or at participating independent pet stores across the country. Customers could also make donations online at Petco.com. The month-long fundraiser supports several guide dog schools throughout the country, including GDTX.
“Guide dogs are provided for free to enhance the lives of visually impaired people, but each dog takes up to two years to train and costs more than $40,000,” said Charlie Piscitello, senior vice president of human resources for Petco and president of the Petco Foundation. “Both Petco and the Petco Foundation are proud to present this important grant and to support the incredible work done by Guide Dogs of Texas, and many other similar organizations, in order to provide these life-changing animals to people who need them.”
Ron Montgomery, Natural Balance senior account supervisor, said Natural Balance was happy to support GDTX. “Every seven minutes someone in America becomes blind or visually impaired. Natural Balance is committed to the cause of guide dog programs that empower the visually impaired with the gift of a guide dog,” Montgomery said. “We are dedicated at both the national and local levels to raise money and awareness in support of the transformational power of guide dogs.”
Funding from the Petco Foundation will allow GDTX to continue its work with clients who, after being paired with a guide dog, come to the San Antonio-based center for an intensive, three-week, one-one-one training period with a guide dog mobility instructor before returning home with their service dog. GDTX currently serves 28 clients. Another 14 visually-impaired Texans are on a waiting list.