For more than 14 years, Freedom Dogs, a leading Specialty Service Dog nonprofit, has been providing military personnel of the Wounded Warrior Battalion – West Camp Pendleton (WWBn-W) with highly trained Specialty Service Dogs, to decrease the suffering associated with PTSD and TBI. Working closely with the health providers of the WWBn-W, Freedom Dogs trainers and these very special dogs have helped to enhance the recovery of more than 40 military heroes.
The goal of each Service Member/Dog-Trainer team is to assist the warriors in their return to an active and productive life. This is accomplished through two programs, the Partner Program and the Partner for Life Program. Beth Russell, President, founder and lead trainer for Freedom Dogs shared with GB Magazine what is unique about the Freedom Dog program; “We measure our success in the number of Warriors we help transition back to active duty or civilian life as well as no suicides vs. the number of dogs placed permanently”.
There is no cost to the military nor to the participating service members for these programs for the placement of a dog. Freedom Dogs follows its participants throughout the dog’s life and will provide a replacement dog as needed at no cost.
The organization has grown in two ways this year. The first was the opening of a new specially designed training center bordering on Camp Pendleton (Vandegrift Blvd, Oceanside). This space offers close proximity to the base for the participants and a “safe” place to work. Additionally, it affords numerous training opportunities for these special dogs and their trainers.
The second highlight was the hiring of an Executive Director. Freedom Dogs has been 100% volunteer led for more than 14 years until the hiring of its first Executive Director, Wendy Sabin-Lasker, to work alongside their dedicated group of Board members and trainers. “We are thrilled to have Wendy’s expert leadership as we continue to grow and to implement our strategic plans,” said George (Jody) Root Chairman of the Board.
Freedom Dog’s 7th annual Fundraiser, the Golf Tournament on March 6th at the Del Mar Country Club is critical to raising the monies needed for acquiring/purchasing well bred, healthy Labs from exceptional breeders around the country, raising a dog to age 2 ½ years and well beyond when they are ready for service; food, vet bills, puppy insurance, dog training supplies, service dog vests, harnesses, collars and leashes to name a few. Volunteer trainers are also given a small gas reimbursement to assist in the costs of traveling an average of 70 miles one way to take our Marines, with dogs to their doctor’s appointments, public outings, family events and special events for which they are accompanied and supported by the Freedom Dog. Additionally, a Freedom Dogs’ representative travels nationwide for yearly checkups on their Partner for Life dog teams, and covers the expense of bringing teams back to the Oceanside area yearly. Emergency travel funds are also necessary for travel of a trainer when a Partner for Life Marine is in distress.
Freedom Dogs needs the continued support of donors to provide its specially trained heroes for our military heroes. For more information on how you can assist, please visit www.freedomdogs.org or call (760) 696-3076.