Dogtopia Foundation Renews Commitment to Employees on the Spectrum in Celebration of Autism Awareness Month
Foundation impact grows as dog daycare franchise adds more locations
April 12, 2022 // Franchising.com // PHOENIX - While Dogtopia is helping our furry family members, the Dogtopia Foundation is helping the communities in which they're located. In celebration of Autism Awareness Month in April, the Dogtopia Foundation is renewing its commitment to supporting employees on the autism spectrum, as well as its other key pillars of sponsoring service dogs for veterans and fostering youth literacy. Last month at Dogtopia's annual conference, franchisees raised more than $100,000 to support the Foundation, bringing the total amount raised for the charity well over $1.2 million since 2018.
"It's exciting to see the momentum behind the Foundation and even more exciting to consider what the future may hold," said Dogtopia Foundation Executive Director Liz Meyers. "Our network is growing rapidly and we're attracting franchisees who are drawn to the brand because of our Noble Cause and the Foundation's mission 'to enable dogs to positively change our world' through our three pillars."
Since 2018, the Foundation has played a huge role in helping Dogtopia employ adults on the autism spectrum. This program began because there are not many career options for the nearly 100,000 teenagers with autism who enter adulthood each year. The Foundation offers an Autism Employment Guide and hosts webinars to provide franchisees with tools and resources they need to create a work environment where individuals with autism can thrive.
"As a leader in building a positive and beneficial culture, I have found that our employees on the spectrum directly reflect those values," said Andy Knights, Dogtopia of South Chandler General Manager. "They are honest, loyal and hard-working and foster a positive environment for their teammates and our pet parents, while performing the essential duties both safely and efficiently. They are an integral part of our team."
In addition to providing employment for adults on the autism spectrum, Dogtopia franchisees have collectively raised money to help sponsor more than 135 service dogs for veterans. This initiative is complemented by a partnership with retired Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans, who will be traveling the country to help Dogtopia franchisees raise awareness and funds for the "Dogs Save Lives" cause within their local communities. The Dogtopia Foundation also supports the work of Dr. Maggie O'Haire with Purdue University as she conducts research to uncover data-driven evidence of the benefits of service dogs for veterans with PTSD.
Finally, the Foundation supports youth literacy programs such as SitStayRead, a Chicago-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that prepares volunteers and their dogs to serve as a non-judgmental and supportive audience for at-risk elementary school students and help them grow more confident and fluent in their reading.
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