TOPEKA, Kan. — Hill’s Pet Nutrition broke ground Aug. 15 at its new pet nutrition and professional engagement center in Topeka, which will facilitate research and development in small dog nutrition and engage veterinarians and pet caregivers.

The facility is a result of a $20 million investment by Hill’s and its parent company, Colgate-Palmolive, and will span 25,000 sq. ft.

“Hill’s is excited to announce the expansion of our world-renowned pet nutrition center to focus on the special needs of small dogs and also to enhance our involvement with those who care for pets through the new engagement center,” said Jesper Nordengaard, president of Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “We are always investing in research and development to serve the nutritional needs of pets as well as learning from veterinarians, customers and caregivers through their experiences.”

The Small Paws center for pet nutrition will house 80 small dogs weighing less than 12 lbs. The facility will provide top-notch veterinary care for the dogs and include activities such as the outdoor Bark Park.

Dave Baloga, vice president of science and technology at Hill’s, said an increase in the small dog population globally is one main driver of this new facility. With small and miniature breeds making up more than half of all dogs living in the US, according to the company, it’s important to develop diets that reflect their distinct dietary and nutritional needs.

“Our investment in this specialized facility will help us develop food with the taste and aesthetics that small dogs prefer and that works best with their distinctive behaviors and unique physiology,” Baloga said. “The Small Paws center will allow us to better understand their needs and discover new ways to help them lead happy, healthy lives.”

The Engagement Center will host educational sessions and programs for veterinary professionals and students.

The groundbreaking ceremony featured Nordengaard and Baloga, as well as Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla; Noel Wallace, president and CEO of Colgate-Palmolive; Bonnie Rush, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University; and several other state and county representatives. Members of Helping Hands Humane Society of Topeka were also present.

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