Freedom Service Dogs of America
This month, we are featuring an exceptional company by the name of Freedom Service Dogs of America!
Freedom Service Dogs (FSD) is a not-for-profit organization that greatly improves the lives of people with disabilities. They provide service dogs to people of all ages and occupations, from children with Autism to adults with spinal cord injuries to veterans and soldiers in active duty – and everyone in-between, including at-risk youth who are helped through human-animal interaction. The program is fully funded by donations and fundraisers, allowing FSD to live up to their promise of providing a task-trained service dog to a person in need absolutely free of charge.
Service Dog Training for Veterans
One particular group of individuals that Freedom Service Dogs provides with service dogs are military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The need for veteran assistance has experienced a significant increase in recent years, and Freedom Service Dogs is honored to be one of the few organizations that provide dogs who are specially trained for this purpose.
As part of a new program established in 2009, called Operation Freedom, these service dogs are trained to help veterans with a wide range of everyday tasks, such as retrieving various small items, pushing a light switch or an emergency alert button, opening doors, and much more for up to 50 different cues. For veterans with mobility-related disabilities, FSD provides service dogs who can act as a brace when standing up or transferring to and from a wheelchair, or those who can help with balance while walking.
Whether the person in need is a veteran or a regular civilian, their disability can cause not only physical but also mental distress. Thus, even the simple fact of having a service animal with them at all times can help relieve symptoms of psychological trauma, such as flashbacks, nightmares, or discomfort in the presence of large gatherings of people. The difference that a service dog can make to a person in their care is truly astonishing!
In order to train these dogs to be the best form of assistance for these and so many other deserving people with disabilities, Freedom Service Dogs spends $25,000 and approximately 7 to 12 months on each service dog. This sum includes rescuing the dogs, training them for the appropriate tasks, as well as feeding and caring for them until they are ready to be matched with their new parent. How does FSD ensure that these costs are covered and yet the person in need receives the dog at no cost whatsoever?
Several times each year, Freedom Service Dogs receives proceeds from a wide range of exciting events, where you and your family can have a great time while helping raise money for the FSD program. Upcoming fundraisers for the cause include:
- August 28 – Faces of Freedom Sporting Clays Tournament in Bennett, CO
- September 12 – The 8th Annual Doggie Plunge in Englewood, CO
- October 24 – Diamonds in the Ruff in Denver, CO
Not only does Freedom Service Dogs help people, it helps dogs too! All of their dogs are taken from shelters and rescue groups and given a new purpose in life. The team at FSD uses positive reinforcement to ensure that the dogs are happy in their new roles and provide the highest level of service to the person with a disability. Each service dog also receives support from the FSD program for the duration of their life.
Although most of FSD’s dogs graduate to become fully task-trained and certified service dogs, some may be released from the program before its completion. Some of the common reasons include the lack of proper temperament or minor health deficiencies that could prevent long-term service. In such cases, Freedom Service Dogs offers people with no disabilities the opportunity to adopt these wonderful companion dogs. FSD believes that every dog in its care deserves a second chance at a happy life, whether being an everyday hero for a person in need or simply being part of a loving family.
More on the FSD
Started in 1987 as a two-person company, Freedom Service Dogs has grown into a much-needed service dog training company, receiving a multitude of national recognition and support. They actively pursue our shared ideologies of education, force-free training, ethics and professionalism, which is why we salute Freedom Service Dogs!
To learn more about Freedom Service Dogs of America and their impressive work, please do not hesitate to visit their website. If you believe that you or a loved one could benefit from a task-trained service dog but cannot handle the potential costs of acquiring one, visit FSD’s Apply for a Service Dog page, where you will find everything you need to get started.
If you are interested in donating to this worthy cause, the FSD website lists several ways to do so. If you would like to volunteer, they have an array of opportunities for different skill levels and interests.