Freedom Service Dogs is a nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by rescuing dogs and custom training them for individual client needs. Clients include children, veterans, active duty soldiers, and adults. Clients’ disabilities include autism, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What sets Freedom Service Dogs apart from other service dog organizations is that we use rescued dogs and don’t have a puppy breeding program. All of our rescued dogs undergo screenings for health and temperament before beginning a 7 to 10 month training program. Dogs that do not make it through the training program are adopted into loving homes.
Freedom Service Dogs custom trains our service dogs for a client’s individual needs. By the time training is finished, the dogs know upwards of 50 commands including things like: opening doors, picking up dropped items, pulling wheelchairs, turning on the lights and finding someone for help. All clients of both programs are provided lifetime support and annual recertification. The cost for Freedom Service Dogs to train, house, and medically care for a service dog is $25,000. Freedom Service Dogs is committed to enhancing the lives of people living with disabilities, so dogs are given to clients at no cost to them.
Freedom Service Dogs works with at-risk youth through its Pawsitive Connection program that focuses on empathy development and increasing prosocial interactions through the effective use of the human-animal connection. Freedom Service Dogs also has a Professional Therapy Dog program which pairs one of our rescued dogs with people around the country working to assist those in their community in need of therapeutic support. While our service dogs are typically the center of their client’s world, our therapy dogs reach hundreds of people in a vast variety of settings from assisted living communities to residential treatment, from AIDS counseling to our very own Pawsitive Connection program.
How the Money Will Be Used
In 2015, the Tony’s Crew Award of $5,000 will provide ongoing support of the Client-Dog Team Program – the core program of FSD – which pairs a person living with a disability with a dog specifically trained for that individual.