The dogs and staff members worked hard on Wednesday as they prepared for the official opening of Dogtopia. Owner Daryl Bray says the Dogtopia Foundation is committed to supporting more than just your furry best friend forever.
“Most important to us is providing funding to train service dogs for military veterinarians,” Bray said. “We are currently aiming to raise $6,000 before the official opening on August 29.”
The Dogtopia Foundation raises funds which are donated to organizations such as K9’s for Heroes and America’s VetDogs. Organizations train service dogs and place them with veterans who meet their specific needs.
“We’re not going to stop with the first service dog,” Bray said. “This is going to be an ongoing fundraiser for us to continue training service dogs for as long as we’re open.”
The organization also contributes to youth literacy programs in schools and libraries where they help children learn to read by reading to dogs. They also have an initiative to hire autistic adults.
“Many of our facilities, including ours, can accommodate people with autism very well and we’re proud of that,” Bray said. “We celebrate it and we have programs to support their employment here at Dogtopia.”
Tracy Gordon, Dogtopia’s New Store Operations Manager (NSO), said that’s what the organization is all about.
“The owner and the staff that work here, they all love dogs,” Gordon said. “It becomes a bit like Aunt Tracy or Aunt anyone to really be able to nurture this pet parent and this relationship that we are creating now.”
Bray said he hopes to one day meet a veteran and his service dog through the Dogtopia Foundation’s contribution.
“Ideally, yes, it would be a local veteran here that we could meet and greet and have their service dog greet us,” Bray said.
Dogtopia hopes to reach its fundraising goal by August 29. The funds will then be sent to a partner organization who will train the dog for a veteran.