Liberty is excited to announce its newest team member, Sweeney, our Puppy With a Purpose®. Through a collaboration with national nonprofit organization, the Guide Dog Foundation, Liberty is raising a puppy who will one day provide independence for an individual who is blind or has low vision. Sweeney, a 12-week-old black Labrador Retriever, will learn basic obedience, good house manners and socialization skills for approximately 16 to 18 months to mold him into a well-rounded future guide dog. He will then return to the Guide Dog Foundation for formal training and ultimately be matched with an individual who is blind or has low vision at no cost to them.

“Volunteerism, giving, and inclusion are at the heart of our business model and raising a Puppy With a Purpose® allows us to give back in a meaningful way,” said Neil Proudman, President, Liberty New Hampshire. “Not only are we assisting the Guide Dog Foundation, but we are ultimately providing a life changing opportunity for a blind or visually impaired individual and that is something that can we can all feel good about.”

The Guide Dog Foundation is a national New York-based nonprofit that provides guide dogs to individuals who are blind, have low vision, or other disabilities at no cost and relies on donations and volunteers to make their program successful. Liberty prioritizes volunteerism and community involvement among its employees, making this relationship a perfect fit.

“The Guide Dog Foundation is excited to partner with Liberty on this life-changing program to raise a future guide dog for an individual who is blind or has low vision,” said John Miller, president & CEO, Guide Dog Foundation. “We are thankful to the entire Liberty organization for supporting the Foundation’s mission but also for joining our dedicated group of volunteer puppy raisers to provide Sweeney with a unique and enriching environment that will ultimately mold him into a confident and well-socialized guide dog.”

Chris Alario, President, Liberty New York Water, said bringing Sweeney into the Liberty family is a win for everyone. “We are providing a needed service for the Guide Dog Foundation, and in doing so will gain an understanding of the time, energy, and cost that goes into raising a single guide dog.”

Sweeney is named for Liberty’s well-respected East Region President, Jim Sweeney, who has announced his retirement after 39 years of service. His namesake puppy will be raised by Liberty New York Water employee Pam Bellings and will be part of the Liberty family, visiting our water and energy offices, engaging with employees and customers, and generally becoming accustomed to social situations that he will encounter as a guide dog.

Puppy raising is vital to preparing guide dogs for their roles with their handlers. Pam, under the direction of the Guide Dog Foundation, will teach Sweeney basic obedience skills while he lives with her family and comes to work with her for the year or so before he returns for formal training. The pair will also attend puppy classes twice monthly, reinforcing skills and providing an opportunity for Sweeney to interact with other puppies and puppy raisers.

Mark Saltsman, Vice President and General Manager, Liberty NY Gas is looking forward to watching Sweeney’s growth and development. “I know we are going to be quite proud when we see our puppy with a purpose graduate and move on to fulfill his purpose of giving someone the independence that will change their life.”

Follow Sweeney’s journey on our social media pages and on our website at

Photo Caption:
Sweeney: (l-r): Sweeney, Liberty’s Puppy With a Purpose® is getting to know his Liberty family. On his first day at the office, he posed for photos with Liberty New York Water employees Michelle Serravillo, Claudia Wagner and Laura Kaempf.