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Abby Gunderson

Abby Gunderson

Pet Food Experts and Pets in the Classroom Unite to Enhance Learning in U.S. Elementary Schools

SEPTEMBER 2023 -- Pet Food Experts today announced an impactful partnership with Pets in the Classroom, a national nonprofit committed to enhancing children's academic and emotional well-being by facilitating the presence of pets in educational environments. Their joint mission is to expand the pilot program of 'Dogs in the Classroom,' which aims to introduce certified therapy dogs to over 350 elementary schools, delivering brain-boosting benefits to young learners.

“Pets have a significant impact on the development of young minds,” said Michael Baker, President and CEO at Pet Food Experts. “We are excited to play a pivotal role in expanding the life-changing benefits of the Dogs in the Classroom program. Together, we can make a measurable difference in students' lives by bringing therapy dogs into even more classrooms, nurturing their education and overall emotional well-being,” continued Baker.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Pet Food Experts for their exceptionally generous donation, which has enabled us to expand our Dogs in the Classroom reach and equip teachers with an innovative teaching tool — one that not only fosters academic growth but also instills compassion, responsibility, and emotional resilience in our children,” affirmed Melinda Thomas, Executive Director of Pets in the Classroom. “Together, we are shaping the future by nurturing young hearts and minds.”

The impressive advantages of therapy dogs in educational settings go beyond mere academic improvements. A multitude of studies has substantiated the profound influence that the presence of these affectionate companions can exert on the growth of children, demonstrating tangible results such as diminished anxiety, heightened concentration, and overall enhancement of classroom dynamics. Educators have observed that these reassuring canine allies nurture empathy among students and contribute to a more harmonious learning environment. IMG_5978

Riggs with Dianna Huacuja Garcia, Fifth Grade Student, Vaughn Elementary, Aurora, CO.

Since 2010, Pet Care Trust has made an indelible mark on the educational landscape of the United States through its Pets in the Classroom grant program, extending financial support and the companionships of pets to an astounding 230,000 classrooms, impacting an estimated 9.1 million students across the nation — an experience that can help shape their lives for years to come.

In 2021, Pets in the Classroom solidified a nationwide collaboration with Pet Partners, a leading nonprofit in the animal therapy sector. Together, they initiated the Dogs in the Classroom pilot program, aimed at introducing certified therapy dogs to 100 elementary schools. This preliminary study proved immensely successful, leading to a sudden surge in grant requests from teachers.

To learn more about their transformative program and the benefits of becoming a retail partner or to apply for a grant, visit

About Pet Food Experts: 
Pet Food Experts (PFX) has been putting people first for over 35 years and has grown to become a leading distributor of pet food and supplies throughout the U.S. Recognized as an award-winning, relationship-driven service innovator, PFX offers an unmatched brand portfolio, best-in-class service, and delivers long-term success for its growing network of 6,500 independent pet retailers in 39 states nationwide. Learn more at, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or blog.

About The Pet Care Trust:
The Pet Care Trust is a non-profit, private foundation that promotes the public understanding of the joys
and benefits of pets through education, support, and interaction. In 2010, the Pets in the Classroom
grant program was established by the Pet Care Trust with the knowledge that classroom pets can be a
valuable teaching tool that many teachers do not have access to because of a lack of funding. The
program provides financial support to teachers to purchase and maintain small animals in the
classroom, providing children with an opportunity to interact with pets — an experience that can help to
shape their lives for years to come. In 2021, the Pet Care Trust launched the Dogs in the Classroom
program, which strives to bring well-trained and thoroughly screened therapy animal teams to select
schools to promote positive academic outcomes and improve the health and well-being of students.
For more information on The Pet Care Trust, visit

About Abby Gunderson

Abby joined the Pet Food Experts marketing team as the Marketing Manager in the summer of 2022. As a ten-year marketing veteran with a journalism background, Abby is thrilled to be working in the pet industry as an animal lover and advocate. When she's not creating marketing magic with the PFX team, you can find her in the White Mountains of New Hampshire either on a snowboard or in hiking boots, picking up a foster pup to give them a place to crash before they find their forever home, or hunting for a van to become an adventure home on wheels. Currently, she lives in Southeastern Massachusetts with her husband, two cats, and three dogs.