Jordan Cerillo, Regional Manager for Dogtopia locations in Wisconsin and Minnesota, Ran with a Friend to Help Veterans in Need of Service Dogs

Over Memorial Day Weekend, two Minnesota men completed a monumental feat to make a positive impact for veterans.

Starting at 7 a.m. on Sunday, May 26, Jordan Cerrillo, Regional Manager for Dogtopia in Eau Claire, WI, and Woodbury, MN, and his friend Jacob Hall, ran 101 miles from one daycare to the other to raise over $30,000 for the 501(c)(3) non-profit Dogtopia Foundation. The Dogtopia Foundation is the Dogtopia franchise’s charitable arm, which is dedicated supporting programs, research, and initiatives focused around three worthy causes: service dogs for veterans, therapy dogs for students, and employment initiatives for adults with autism.

Jordan and Jacob’s long-distance run was dedicated to raising funds to provide service dogs to veterans in need, and their goal will help support the training of more than five life-saving canines. Donations can still be made here.

Before the run, Dogtopia President and CEO Neil Gill showed his support: “The Dogtopia Foundation, Dogtopia daycares, and all Dogtopians across the country are proud to support Jordan on his ultra-marathon run, which will provide several veterans in need with a life-saving service dog. Jordan’s determination, grit, compassion, and mission to make the world a brighter place embody everything we stand for as an organization, and we will be cheering him on the entire way.”

For the final 10 miles of the run, Jordan and Jacob were joined by retired Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans, a Dogtopia Foundation ambassador. After enduring life-threatening injuries in service in Afghanistan, Gretchen found solace and strength in the companionship of service dogs. Her celebrated story, recognized with the prestigious Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 2022 ESPYs, continues to inspire countless individuals to live with purpose and resilience.

“Whatever kind of pain or aches we feel, I know it’s nothing compared to what the veterans have had to do when they’re serving and what they’ve maybe had to deal with after serving,” Jordan said.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of veterans who have served, more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan but as well as a few in the prior wars, and I know service dogs have been a huge help for them,” said Jacob. “So, I combined two passions. I love to give back and help the veteran community, and I love to run as well.”

Approximately 52% of veterans face PTSD, so the Dogtopia Foundation has made its pillar around service dogs a priority this past year. On top of Jordan and Jacob’s remarkable run and several initiatives alongside Gretchen, the Foundation was a key supporter of research from The University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine, with the help of K9s For Warriors, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Purina. The research, led by Dr. Maggie O’Haire, Associate Dean for Research and Professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Leanne Nieforth, looked at the impact service dogs had on the cortisol levels of veterans suffering from PTSD. The study found that those with service dogs had healthier cortisol levels when compared to those without service dogs, providing further evidence of the positive benefits service dogs offer veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a key provider for veterans, has been hesitant to allocate funds for service dogs for individuals dealing with PTSD, citing a lack of clinical evidence substantiating their effectiveness. O’Haire’s pioneering research is bridging this gap.

“We’ve had the profound privilege of meeting many of the veterans we’ve supported through our fundraising efforts, and hearing first-hand how these service dogs saved their lives,” said Liz Meyers, executive director of the Dogtopia Foundation. “Their testimonials drive our commitment to support Dr. O’Haire’s incredible work, while we continue fundraising to support our veterans in need.”

All this hard work recently culminated in 500 service dogs sponsored by the Foundation. Since the Foundation’s inception, Dogtopia daycares have collectively achieved this milestone by raising nearly $3 million.

And there is no sign of slowing down as the Dogtopia family continues to grow. Dogtopia currently has 264 open daycares, 43 of which opened in 2023. The franchise will continue its impressive growth trajectory with more than 40 new locations expected to open in 2024 and agreements in place for 200+ more locations in untapped markets.

More than just daycare, boarding, and spa services, Dogtopia is the trusted dog wellness expert dedicated to enhancing the lives of dogs and their families. Dogtopia’s services and products are rooted in science, validated by data, and delivered with love. With guidance from an environmental biologist, veterinarian, and credentialed dog trainer, Dogtopia continues to set the industry standard for dog wellness and daycare to help dogs live long, healthy, happy lives.

Pet parents have the assurance of leaving their beloved furry family members in the hands of trained professionals in an environment created with the safety of dogs in mind, including spacious playrooms assigned by size and play style, comfortable rubber flooring to reduce the impact on joints and paws, and webcams for pet parents to check in on their pups. For more information, visit