Petland Charities renewed its support for Heartland Canines for Veterans at the ribbon cutting of Heartland's new training facility in Neosho, Mo.

Petland Charities renewed its commitment to support the breeding, raising and training of one service dog per year for five years, company officials said. The average cost to raise and train each service dog is $8,000. Petland has committed to supporting the cost of one dog per year for five years.

“Petland Charities is an extension of the charitable giving Petland has done for almost 50 years,” said Ed Sayres, executive director of Petland Charities. “We know the benefits of animal companionship and for some veterans, it is the difference between life and death. We are very pleased and honored to support the work of Heartland Canines for Veterans and are grateful to be able to help enhance a veteran’s life with a service dog specifically trained to meet their needs.”

On Nov. 2, the Neosho Chamber of Commerce cut the ribbon, opening the doors officially to the new Chad Carroz Heartland Canines for Veterans Training Center. The three-acre facility has a 6,000 square foot building that includes office space, boarding facilities, training room and an apartment for veterans to use during training. It also houses All Dogs Dream, a boarding and daycare facility. The property also features a one-acre play yard.

Heartland Canines for Veterans is a 501c3 organization that provides companion, service and therapy dogs for disabled veterans. Since its inception in 2015, they have provided 35 veterans with service dogs.

According to the 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, the suicide rate among Veterans rose 35.9 percent from 2001 to 2019, from 23.3 per 100,000 in 2001 to 31.6 per 100,000 in 2019.

Today, more evidence and studies are pointing to the benefits service dogs provide veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A 2018 Purdue University study found veterans coping with PTSD experienced reduced symptoms of PTSD and depression if they were paired with a service dog. Veterans with service dogs also missed less work and were more productive than their dog-less counterparts. Similar studies reported that veterans with service dogs experience less anger, less anxiety, and better sleep.

“These dogs are often the first of many steps in the healing process for some Veterans. We are honored to be a part of that process,” said Kevin Pruitt, executive director at Heartland Canines. “Our organization is made up of veterans, military family, and dedicated military and veteran supporters with the motto ‘So They Never Walk Alone.’ Our relationship with Petland not only allows us to place purpose bred service dogs with veterans in need, but also provides us the opportunity to continue to spread awareness of veteran suicides.”

The mission of Heartland Canines for Veterans is to provide purpose-bred, professionally trained service dogs to veterans in need. These service dogs are provided to the veteran at no cost to them; Heartland bears all costs relating to procurement, general and veterinary care, training and equipment during the training and pairing process. Heartland’s Service Dog candidates are donated by professional breeders and must undergo rigorous evaluation trials and screenings before being accepted into the training program. A typical service dog training program lasts about 12-14 months, sometimes longer for specialized individual tasks; the ultimate goal is to assist veterans who suffer from illnesses/injuries such as depressive disorders, anxiety, mobility issues and/or post-traumatic stress. Each veteran candidate also completes a thorough application and selection process, designed to identify individual needs, and our board members work with several affiliate veteran organizations to ensure timely and accurate submissions.