Freedom Service Dogs, Inc

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Freedom Service Dogs, Inc
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Our mission is to rescue dogs from shelters and train them to assist people with disabilities, thus increasing their independence and peace of mind.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

638,654 Coloradans are living with disabilities[1]. More than 40,000 pets are euthanized each year in Colorado. Freedom Service Dogs’ objective is to bring these two populations together to form a team that raises the quality of life for the person and the dog. Our mission is to rescue dogs from shelters and train them to assist people with disabilities, thus increasing their independence and peace of mind. Kathleen, a client living with muscular dystrophy, says of her service dog, "Blu has increased my independence tremendously," and, "turned my life around in a positive fashion. Before I got Blu, I never left the house by myself. Now we go out every day; he goes to work with me and helps me with my shopping.”


Since its founding in 1987, Freedom Service Dogs (FSD) has rescued more than 600 dogs and placed 125 client-dog teams. We provide ongoing lifetime support and hands on assistance to all of the client-dog teams. The Client-Dog Team Program is FSD’s ongoing core program and encompasses 2 types of client-dog teams: Professional Service Team and Certified Companion Team.

Professional Service Team: This team pairs a person living with a disability that affects their mobility, such as multiple sclerosis, a spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, with a highly trained dog. Professionally trained service dogs assist their human partners with a variety of tasks including pushing 911 and lifeline buttons, getting help during a medical or other emergency, retrieving and carrying objects, opening and closing doors, helping with transfers in and out of a wheelchair, bracing and balancing clients with conditions that make walking difficult, and performing other specialized tasks needed by the client.

Certified Companion Team: This team matches a skilled companion dog and a person with a condition such as autism, Down syndrome or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Companion dogs help their partners in many ways which include providing a calming effect and acting as a social bridge. Service and companion dogs perform specialized tasks while also serving as a social bridge for their human partner.

Research studies show that people living with mobility impairments experience increased depression, lack of self-esteem, social isolation, and decreased psychological well-being. A two-year study conducted at the University of New York Buffalo confirmed that service dogs do much more for their partners than carrying out trained tasks.[2] This study demonstrated that people living with disabilities who were partnered with a service dog showed significant positive changes psychologically, socially, demographically, and economically. Artie, a Vietnam Veteran, explains, “When you go out with your service dog, you are a person with a cool dog. Not a person with a disability.”

FSD assistance dogs provide crisis prevention for their partners as service dogs assist their partners in fully and safely participate in their communities. Service dogs are granted full public access this includes accompany their human partner to work, school, volunteering, grocery shopping, utilizing public transportation, going to doctor appointments and many other activities. FSD assistance dogs also provide security and a lifesaving link to the outside world during emergencies, which assists them in living independently. Our client Barry credits his service dog, Libby, with saving his life after a slip in the bathtub left him stranded. Libby quickly brought Barry’s cell phone but the battery was dead. For days, Libby kept watch over Barry. She kept him alert and brought him food. Finally, her barking alerted a visitor to his plight. Barry says he would not have survived without his service dog.

FSD also places professional therapy dogs through The Profession Therapy Dog Program. This program partners FSD with various universities and mental health providers to pioneer and implement a program utilizing Animal-Assisted Therapy.

Additionally, FSD offers Operations Freedom and Pawsitive Connection. Pawsitive Connection focuses on character development of at-risk youth through the human/animal connection. Operation Freedom is a partnership developed with the Veterans Administration. By training a dog that will become a Professional Service Dog for a severely wounded veteran, Operation Freedom creates a mutually beneficial program for returning military personnel and veterans in transition.

On average the cost to train a FSD assistance dog ranges between $23,000 and $25,000. FSD recognizes the valuable service a canine partner provides to persons living with disabilities and as such our dogs are provided to clients at no cost to them. This practice demonstrates our commitment to providing assistance dogs to all clients whose quality of life will be positively impacted regardless of their financial situation. This is especially important as considering that just 23 percent of persons living with disabilities are employed[3]. Currently, we have 35 people on the waiting list to receive their canine partners; this is a record high and new applications are being received daily.

Through TechSoup and Microsoft’s partnership FSD has been able to purchase Office Professional Plus 2007, Small Business Server 2003, Office Communications Server 2007 Standard Edition and Symantec Mail Security 6.0, which has created a solid, reliable infrastructure that has significantly increased the efficiency and impact of our work. These tools make the day-to-day administration of our office possible. Prior to having this infrastructure, our network was painfully slow and unreliable. Office Professional Plus 2007 has enabled us to create, analyze, share and organize our documents and information with greater ease and professionalism. The server has enabled us to set up a central filing system that allows access to everyone who needs the information. Symantec Mail Security 6.0 enables us to communicate with confidence and security. It enables us to communicate via email effectively with volunteers, colleagues, clients and partners. We are also able to use Outlook to coordinate calendars and use our time more effectively.



This technical infrastructure has been part of FSD’s growth and development as an organization. In 2008 FSD moved to a new training campus and grew the staff, this enabled us to graduating16 client-dog teams: placing 8 professional service dogs with disabled clients, and 8 dogs as professional therapy dogs. This represents a three-fold increase in our previous graduation rate. The infrastructure that the Microsoft technology helped create has given us the tools we need to manage our growth and continue to increase our impact.

[1] US Census Bureau

[2] Allen K. and Blaskovich J. JAMA. 1996; 275:1001-1006

[3] U.S Department of Labor

Submission Category
Stable and Secure Technology
Project Image