From shelter dog to service dog: Grant will change their lives

Chelsea Moreno, KXAN - AUSTIN (KXAN) -- Several shelter dogs will soon become service dogs thanks to a grant awarded to a local nonprofit organization.

The Petco Foundation donated $340,000 to Service Dogs, Inc., which adopts rescue dogs from shelters and trains them to become service dogs. It's the largest grant the organization has gotten in their 30 year history.

Once the dogs are certified, the organization provides the dogs for free to wounded veterans and Texans who are disabled.

Kenneth Conly got his dog, Ruby, from the nonprofit almost four years ago and said his four-legged friend has changed his life.

"Most people take it for granted that if you're just walking up to your car how many times do you drop your keys and you just pick them up and off you go again?" Conly said. "If I go into my car and I drop my keys, I'm not able to pick them up."

Conly added that Ruby helps him do laundry, open doors and pick things up.

The grant was awarded to the organization through the Petco Foundation's annual Helping Heroes fundraising campaign, which is partnered with Natural Balance Pet Foods. The campaign happens each October and customers are encouraged to donate in Petco stores across the country to support service and therapy animals plus organizations.

The money from the grant will go toward building a New Beginnings kennel, which will bring newly adopted dogs to the non-profit's six-acre training campus in Dripping Springs.

"Without Ruby, I would be a little bit more scared to go out and do things on my own," Conly said, adding that he is so grateful for what the organization has done for him.

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