ST. LOUIS (Jan. 19, 2023) – Purina announced it is sponsoring a litter of puppies, all of which will be raised by company employees and trained to serve as certified Duo Dog facility, assistance or service dogs. The new program is another step the pet care company is taking to address the mental health epidemic by harnessing the positive impact of pets.
Each of the 10 Labrador Retriever puppies will be paired with a Purina associate serving as a volunteer puppy raiser. These individuals are responsible for puppy development and socialization from eight weeks old to around 18 months old, preparing the puppies for their adult years as a working dog. After 18 months, each puppy will return to the Duo Dog Facility for Advanced Training, where they’ll complete final evaluations to determine how best to serve the community.
Purina plans to work with Duo Dogs to identify one of the 10 puppies to go on and serve as official facility dog for St. Louis CITY SC, the new Major League Soccer club set to kick-off its inaugural season next month. Purina is a founding partner and the official kit sponsor of the team. Plans to add a facility dog to the CITY team roster is just one step Purina is taking to make CITY SC the most pet-friendly sports club in the world.
“At Purina, we believe that pets and people are better together, and it’s humbling to watch our associates go above and beyond to find inspiring new ways to bring the power of pets to those in need,” said Purina Community Affairs Director Kim Beardslee. “These 10 puppies will go on to touch hundreds of thousands of individuals throughout their lives. This is a significant step as we continue working to find ways to put pets in the forefront of how we address mental health.”
The Purina associates serving as Volunteer Puppy Raisers include:
- Paula Boeckmann, Medical Representations
- Belinda Brin, Purina Retiree
- Kristine Costello, Marketing
- Neil Dwivedi, Marketing
- Megan Hecke, CheckMark
- Elizabeth Hennekes, Consumer Sensory Insights, Product Technology & Development
- Noa Hefer, Marketing
- Amanda Jones, Quality & Applied Science, Product Technology & Development
- Emily Lamprecht, Technical Applications Group
- Ryan Stanko, Engineering
- Jessica Strabley, Marketing
The Purina Volunteer Puppy Raisers and litter sponsorship announcement comes on the heels of a new class of Purina associates enrolling in the Touch Therapy certification program in partnership with Duo Dogs. Last December, six Purina associates and their family pets graduated from the inaugural employee-led program and are already active volunteering in the community by visiting youth and families struggling with mental and physical health challenges. Duo certifies each dog and handler to be a Touch Therapy team who visits youth organizations, schools, hospitals, treatment centers, nursing homes and other locations as needed.