By: Michael Downs
As we approach Veteran’s Day on November 11, I’m reminded of how proud I am to work at Purina – a company that has a long history of supporting the U.S. military and veterans, like me.
In fact, Purina’s origin is strongly rooted in military history. The company’s founder and WWI volunteer, William H. Danforth, named the first Purina dog food “Dog Chow” in 1926 as a nod to the “chow lines” that sustained American service members during the war. During the 1940’s, Dog Chow was a major supporter of the Dogs for Defense program, which encouraged dog owners to enlist their dogs in the military to be trained to assist the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines.
Here at our factory in Denver, we have proudly manufactured Purina Dog Chow since 1957, and the company continues to regularly demonstrate our commitment to veterans by partnering with organizations that help unite veterans with pets. All of us at Purina are pet lovers and many of us have pets at home. This summer, Purina Dog Chow launched the Service Dog Salute campaign, partnering with Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) to donate up to $500,000 to ARF’s veterans program, which matches veterans with rescue dogs who are then trained to become their own skilled service companions.
Dog Chow also partnered with BuzzFeed to share stories of veterans and rescue dogs who have been brought together through ARF. These stories touch close to home for me and many of my co-workers at the Denver factory.
I know many veterans who have been supported by a pet during a time of need. From personal experience, I can attest to the comfort and calming presence a pet’s unconditional love can provide. I have three dogs and two cats; and, not that I play favorites, but my rescue dog Charlie is like my lap dog. If I ever need to get something off my chest, he is there to listen. He is my adventure buddy too – we’ll head west up the I-70 corridor and go hiking in the gorgeous mountains, which is one of the reasons we love living in Colorado.
I was originally drawn to working at Purina not just because my passion for pets lines up perfectly with the company’s values, but they value my service and the traits gained during my military service. After spending 12 years in the Army, Purina was one of the few places that recognized that the leadership skills and training I gained in the military made me a great fit, not only for their organization, but in a role with a high level of responsibility. They appreciated my skill set and strong sense of mission as some of the many characteristics that apply to civilian life.
My veteran coworkers at the Purina factory in Denver echo the sentiment of appreciating how our company extends career opportunities to those who have served in the U.S. Military as part of a larger career acceleration initiative, #ProjectOpportunity. My coworker at the Denver factory, who served in the National Guard, tells me how he always felt supported during deployment; he says Purina routinely checked in on him and even sent him care packages. He had the option to keep all his benefits with Purina while deployed. The benefits are amazing.
For over 90 years, Purina has a track record of supporting the U.S. military, veterans, and their furry friends. To find out how you can help support our veterans, visit www.dogchow.com/service, or, if you are a veteran, consider joining Purina’s military talent network to experience the benefits first hand. Happy Veteran’s Day!
Michael Downs is a Maintenance Technician at Purina in Denver. The Purina factory has had a longstanding presence in Denver since 1930, creating high-quality and popular Purina pet food brands, supporting the local community and employing 280 people.