The Houston Texans, in partnership with Kroger, today announced a joint collaboration with America’s VetDogs to name and train a future service dog that will be placed with a veteran or first-responder with disabilities.
The Texans' pup is a 10-week old male, yellow Labrador Retriever, who will undergo basic training and socialization with Texans staff, players and fans during the next 16-18 months. The Texans and Kroger will host the puppy at community events, meet and greets, and select home games to assist in raising and socializing him to become a future service dog. Fans will be able to follow the pup on Instagram at @TexansPup, on Twitter at @TexansPup, and on TikTok at @TexansPup to stay up-to-date on his training and scheduled local appearances.
"Honoring our Armed Forces remains a priority for our organization," said Texans President Greg Grissom. "Partnering with our friends at Kroger, who possess an equally strong commitment to support the military, along with America's VetDogs is a perfect fit. Supporting this initiative aligns with our focus to do great things for Houston. It also provides us with a unique and exciting opportunity to help an American hero."
"We recognize and thank our veterans and their families for the sacrifices they make to serve our country every day," said Joe Kelley, President of Kroger, Houston. "As America's grocer, we are proud to announce our latest partnership with the Houston Texans and VetDogs to support an American hero through the independence and companionship that the Texans' pup will bring."
"America's VetDogs is thrilled to partner with the Houston Texans and Kroger on co-raising the team's first future service dog," said John Miller, President & CEO of America's VetDogs. "The Texans passion for supporting our nation's heroes aligns with our mission to provide trained service dogs for veterans and first responders with disabilities. This opportunity offers a unique environment for their pup to grow and thrive in. A well-socialized puppy will have fewer adjustments to make when he returns back to VetDogs for advanced service dog training. When it's time, that confidence will help someone with disabilities conquer any challenges they may face together as a team."
Texans fans will have a chance to help name the new puppy by submitting a suggested new name for the Labrador Retriever starting July 23. Those who do so will have an opportunity to win a Texans Pup prize pack, courtesy of the Texans and Kroger. Voting will run until July 29 with a final fan vote taking place Friday, July 30. Contest details are available at tex.nz/Pup.
Following his early training, the puppy will be returned back to the America's VetDogs campus in Smithtown, N.Y. to begin his formal service-dog training. At the conclusion of his training, the Labrador Retriever will be matched, at no cost, with a veteran or first-responder with disabilities. VetDogs' assistance dog programs were created to provide enhanced mobility and renewed independence to veterans, active-duty service members, and first-responders with disabilities.
America's VetDogs, a New York-based nonprofit, provides service dogs to veterans and first-responders who have experienced physical injuries, PTSD, hearing and vision loss, and seizures. It is the same organization that trained and placed service dog Sully H.W. Bush with President George H.W. Bush.
Typically, it costs more than $50,000 to breed, raise, train and place an assistance dog, however, all of America's VetDogs services are provided at no charge to the individual. Funding comes from the generosity of individual donors, corporations, and service and fraternal clubs.
For more information, visit tex.nz/Pup.
Since 2003, America’s VetDogs has trained and placed guide and service dogs to provide independence, enhanced mobility and companionship to veterans with disabilities from all eras. In 2015, VetDogs opened its programs to first-responders, including fire, police and emergency medical personnel. America's VetDogs is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded by the Guide Dog Foundation, and it serves clients from across the United States. VetDogs relies on contributions from generous individuals, corporations, service clubs and foundations to fund its mission to help those who have served our country live with dignity and independence. It costs more than $50,000 to breed, raise, train and place an assistance dog, but America's VetDogs provides its services completely free of charge to the individual. America's VetDogs has been accredited by both the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International.
About the Houston Texans
The Houston Texans were introduced as the NFL's 32nd franchise on Oct. 6, 1999 thanks to a city-wide effort spearheaded by franchise founder and late owner Robert C. McNair, and current Co-Founder and Senior Chair Janice McNair. The Texans have since evolved into Forbes Magazine's 19th-most valuable professional sports franchise in the world, with an estimated value of $2.8 billion, and are annually ranked among the Houston Chronicle's "Top 100 Places to Work in the City." The Houston Texans are the only expansion team to have won their first game, defeating Dallas, 19-10, on Sept. 8, 2002. The team has sold out every preseason, regular season and postseason game in franchise history, and donated more than $35 million back to the community through the Houston Texans Foundation. The team won AFC South division titles in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016. NRG Stadium, the NFL's first retractable-roof stadium, is the home of the Texans.
About Kroger Houston
The Kroger Houston Division operates more than 100 stores in SE Texas and Louisiana and employs over 18,000 associates. Last year, Kroger Houston donated $1.9M to local non-profit organizations and schools, and donated 2.6M pounds of food to local food banks. We are committed to creating #ZeroHungerZeroWaste communities by 2025. To learn more about us, visit our newsroom and investor relations site.
The Houston Texans partnered with Kroger and America's VetDogs to adopt a yellow Labrador Retriever to train as a future service dog for a veteran or first responder.