Charlie and Sandy Petrizzo
This mission, along with a desire to be true to their Catholic faith, led Charlie and his wife Sandy to start Circle of Life Labradors, today known as Project 2 Heal, a non-profit 501(c)3. The organization is a way to honor the memory of Charlie’s mother Carolyn by emulating the love she exhibited in serving Charlie and so many others throughout her life.
Project 2 Heal started out as an organization that bred Labrador Retrievers of the best health, temperament and intelligence so that it could donate them to service dog organizations that would train them for children with special needs.
The original dogs for the organization were obtained from one of the top Labrador Retriever breeders in the country, Sally Bell, the owner of the Labradors of Borador.
As news about Project 2 Heal spread, Charlie and Sandy received an increasing amount of inquiries about their dogs. They began doing even more for the community.
They started training the dogs for local children. They allowed families with special needs children to come and have therapy sessions with the dogs. Charlie and Sandy also visited special needs schools and assisted living homes with the dogs. They’ve never charged a dime.
Approximately half of each litter is donated to a service organization. The other half are sold as a way to raise money to support operations.
Project 2 Heal has become one of the most respected Labrador Retriever Breeders in North Carolina and they are just getting started.
Charlieʼs vision includes a facility on more than 50 acres that will draw people from around the country. The facility will be much more than a venue where service dogs and skilled companion dogs will be bred and trained. It will be a focal point for visitors of the Carolina Piedmont region. It will be a place where the community can work together with manʼs best friend to make the world a better place. It will be a place where children with special needs can come for therapy and where neuro – typical children will come to understand the challenges faced by children with special needs, using the dog as a “social lubricant” in order to create a bridge of acceptance.
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Charlie Petrizzo was working a successful corporate job when he felt the need to do something more. Despite his success, Charlie felt discontented with life in the financial world. His experiences had given him a perspective on money and materialism that didn’t fit his life’s calling.
When Charlie was a boy he almost died – twice. With the help of the family's Labrador Retriever Charlie was able to heal. He’s intimately aware of the healing power of these amazing animals and he wanted to give back. He left the financial world.
He made a decision to follow the purpose that was born into him as a boy: He would breed dogs. And not just any dogs, labs with a bloodline carefully selected for the traits required for the best service dogs. He would provide early training to the best pups in every litter so they could become valued service dogs and companions. Then he would donate them to service organizations that would train – and ultimately place – with children he understood: those who were wounded or disabled.
Professional photos © Kelly Patterson