Person holding paw of service dog

Highly decorated veteran and recipient of the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 2022 ESPYS leads effort to raise awareness and funds for service dogs for veterans

PHOENIXSept. 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Dogtopia, the national dog daycare franchise, announced today its new Dogs Save Lives campaign, which runs through Veterans Day on November 11 with retired Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Gretchen Evans leading the way. The campaign includes national speaking engagements and a limited-edition Dogs Save Lives T-shirt that will benefit the brand’s charitable arm, Dogtopia Foundation, and its mission to provide service dogs for veterans.

The Dogs Save Lives campaign is an effort to raise the public’s awareness of the benefits of service dogs for veterans by highlighting the experience of CSM Gretchen Evans, a US Army veteran whose 27-year military career ended abruptly in Afghanistan when rocket blast threw her headfirst into a concrete bunker, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury and total hearing loss. Evans was feeling hopeless and without purpose when America’s VetDogs introduced her to Aura, a service dog who would become her ears and loyal companion on a journey of healing. America’s VetDogs is a national nonprofit that trains and places guide and service dogs with veterans, first responders and active-duty service members, with disabilities, free of charge. Evans credits Aura with saving her life and is now on a mission to amplify the importance of service dogs for veterans as the ambassador of Dogtopia’s Dogs Save Lives campaign.

“I am living proof that dogs save lives,” said Evans. “I’ll wear this T-shirt proudly as both an ambassador and as a personal testimony to the incredible healing power that dogs have in the lives of their humans.”

Over the next two months, Evans will be wearing a Dogs Save Lives T-shirt as she shares her inspirational story and engages supporters at fundraisers hosted by Dogtopia franchisees in select markets across the country.

Gretchen also can be seen sharing her story and wearing the Dogs Save Lives T-shirt in a video on the campaign website, where supporters across the country can join the effort by purchasing the limited-edition Dogs Save Lives T-shirt for $22.99. One hundred percent of all net proceeds from the T-shirt sales will support the Dogtopia Foundation’s efforts to unite service dogs with veterans through its partnerships with America’s VetDogs, K9s For Warriors and other Assistance Dog International (ADI) certified nonprofit organizations.

Each limited-edition Dogs Save Lives T-shirt is delivered with a Buy It. Wear it. Share itcall-to-action postcard insert encouraging purchasers to share their tees on social media using the #DogsSaveLives hashtag and engaging friends to join the campaign.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have Gretchen as our ambassador for our Dogs Save Lives campaign,” said Dogtopia CEO Neil Gill. “She is a servant leader who has pivoted her life’s purpose in a powerful way and with a very important message that resonates with anyone who has a dog in their life. Our hope is to see thousands of people across the country wearing Dogs Save Lives tees and getting behind this noble cause, and Gretchen absolutely has the gumption to make it happen.”