Despite the economic challenges of 2008, the Planet Dog Foundation (PDF) is celebrating another amazing year of giving with 14 grantees and more than $100,000 ($103,150 to be exact) donated to canine service programs nationwide. Through cash grants, sponsorships, special gifts and in-kind donations, PDF has bolstered more than 100 non-profit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of people in need with the aid of highly skilled specialized dogs. An additional $107,000 worth of in-kind product donations provided auction items and prizes for scores of fundraisers at non-profits throughout the country.
The Planet Dog Foundation is the nonprofit grantmaking organization of Planet Dog, the socially responsible and globally recognized designed and developer of innovative, high-quality and award-winning dog products. A percentage of every Planet Dog purchase goes directly to PDF to support the grantmaking program. Since January, 2006, the Planet Dog Foundation has donated more than half a million dollars in cash grants and product donations to non-profit organizations across the country.
"We continue to make great progress towards our goal to support the people and organizations that enable dogs to give back to people in need," said Kristen Smith, PDF's Executive Director. "We extend grateful thanks to all Planet Dog customers, whose continued loyalty to Planet Dog enables the Planet Dog Foundation to truly make a difference in the lives of hundreds of needy people and the four-legged friends who make their lives whole," added Smith.
The Planet Dog Foundation raises awareness of dogs' significant contributions to society and encourages others to "act" on behalf of these wonderful partners by extending its philanthropy across the country and therefore building relationships with hundreds of people and their canine companions. In 2008, PDF awarded cash grants to the following canine service programs, thus impacting literally hundreds of people in need. Funding therapy dogs, service dogs and search & rescue dogs, they gratefully celebrate all "working" dogs that are enhancing and saving human lives.
· Dogs for Diabetics, Concord, CA (www.dogs4diabetics.com ). The PDF grant supports their efforts to train insulin-dependent clients and diabetic alert dogs to work together as a team to assist in managing the clients' diabetes.
· Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Yorktown Heights, NY (www.guidingeyes.org ). The PDF grant is building a branded Planet Dog outdoor play and exercise area at their facility where dogs can romp between rigorous training sessions by providing natural outlets for dogs' natural desire to chew, play in a pack and stay physically fit.
· Texas Hearing & Service Dogs, Austin, TX (www.servicedogs.org ). The PDF grant is supporting their efforts to train shelter dogs to become Hearing and Service Dogs for Texans living with hearing impairments or mobility challenges.
· Thirteen/WNET TV, New York, NY (www.pbskids.org/martha ). The PDF grant supports Martha Speaks at the Library, bringing animal assisted literacy programs to eleven branches of the New York Public Library.
· Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, Norfolk, VA (www.chkd.org ). The PDF grant is supporting their Buddy Brigade Pet Therapy volunteer program which makes 3,000 visits each year to inpatient and outpatient children.
· Freedom Service Dogs, Lakewood, CO (www.freedomservicedogs.org ). The PDF grant is helping them rescue dogs from shelters and training them to assist people with disabilities, increasing their independence and peace of mind.
· Assistance Dog Institute, Santa Rosa, CA (www.assistancedog.org ). The PDF grant, in cooperation with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, funds Paws for Purple Hearts, a project that uses instruction in service dog training as a therapeutic intervention for returning Wounded Warriors that are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
· Hearing & Service Dogs of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN (www.hsdm.org ). The PDF grant is supporting the Autism Assist Program which trains dogs for children with autism spectrum disorder. All dogs are placed for free and the vast majority of them are rescued from animal shelters.
· Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA (www.childrenhospital.org ). The PDF grant is helping to fund a research study which aims to describe dog visitation in acute care pediatric hospital settings from parent and child perspectives.
· Working Dogs for Conservation, Three Forks, MT (www.workingdogsforconservation.org ). The PDF grant supports conservation detection dogs, who locate habitats of threatened and endangered species, and the Dog Life Program which provides a positive and fulfilling life for working, retired and candidate conservation detection dogs throughout their selection, training, working and daily lives.
· People.Animals.Love, Washington, DC (www.peopleanimalslove.com ). The PDF grant is supporting their Pet Therapy Visitation Program which makes more than 16,000 visits each year to hospitals, schools, nursing homes and the Walter Reed Medical Center.
· Gabriel's Angels, Mesa, AZ (www.petshelpingkids.com ). The PDF grant is supporting their efforts to deliver pet therapy to abused, neglected and at-risk children, nurturing their ability to love and trust, thereby freeing them from the cycle of violence.
· Service Dog Project, Ipswich, MA (www.servicedogproject.org ). The PDF grant is supporting their efforts to provide large breed "balance" dogs for people with mobility issues, enabling them to achieve more independence.
· International Hearing Dog, Henderson, CO (www.ihdi.org ). The PDF grant is supporting their efforts to assist people with hearing loss by custom training dogs from local animal shelters to alert them to many sounds in the home.
In addition to these national efforts, the Planet Dog Foundation has offered its local dog-loving community opportunities to support service dog training programs while celebrating their own special pups. In December the annual Sit with Santa fundraiser at the Planet Dog Company Store raised $1,000 for PDF thanks to participation by dog lovers and their 75 canine companions.
The Third Annual Woofminster Amateur Dog Show Fundraiser held in September, complete with a Cover Dog Challenge to win a professional photo shoot and chance to be on the cover of the next Planet Dog catalog, raised over $6,000 for NEADS: Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, a non-profit that trains service dogs to help people with disabilities live more independent lives throughout New England and the nation. In March, PDF was named the 2008 Official Outfitter of NEADS by donating over $25,000 in Planet Dog products to outfit all of NEADS' puppies, dogs-in-training and new graduating Assistance Dogs.
In August, PDF and the Portland Seadogs teamed up for Maine's homeless animals to help strike out homelessness in pets at "Bark in the Park", the second annual fundraiser to benefit Maine's animal shelters. Additional support to local animal shelters and sponsorships of fundraising walks for the Animal Welfare Society, the Animal Refuge League and the Center for Grieving Children rounded out PDF's local giving.
In addition to hosting and supporting local events, employees of both PDF and Planet Dog volunteered hundreds of hours of their time throughout the year in the community. "We encourage and enable each employee to take paid time off to volunteer for organizations of their choice," said Stephanie Volo, Planet Dog's President. "And, we turned our annual holiday celebration into an employee volunteer effort spending 120 hours in just one day helping at the Preble Street Resource Center," added Volo.
"As a small company doing big things, we are supporting like-minded organizations that will most benefit from our support," said Alex Fisher, Planet Dog's Founder. "From the beginning, we knew we wanted to build a socially responsible company that not only enhanced the lives of dogs and their people, but one that also improved the world around us by giving back," added Fisher. For more information about Planet Dog or the Planet Dog Foundation, please visit www.planetdog.com or www.planetdogfoundation.org.