Since 2010, Operation Freedom Paws has rescued shelter dogs, matched them with veterans and others with disabilities, then trained them together to become highly-trained service dog teams---at no cost to clients. We've rescued dogs of every breed (and a lot of mutts) who have gone on to help the people we've matched with them. Whether it's for PTSD, traumatic brain injury, hearing, diabetes, mobility or seizures, these rescued dogs are giving disabled clients the freedom to live, not just exist.
The need for trained service dogs is growing. We are learning more about dogs and what they are capable of doing to help humans, while at the same time facing a dramatic increase in the number of men and women returning from military service with disabling injuries. Their wounds affect both body and spirit; traditional medical treatment methods don't work for everyone. To be an effective team both dogs and people need training, so we teach clients how to train the dogs for their specific needs.
A rescued dog matched to a disabled person can learn to scent changes in body chemistry and give "early warning" of an impending medical issue. Anxiety, blood sugar, pain and seizures all have chemical signatures dogs can learn to smell. By teaching a dog to alert the handler when chemical change first starts, s/he can take action before a medical situation becomes critical. Dogs don't judge. They give hope to people struggling with depression; they become "battle buddies" and a reason to live.
Rescuing a dog and matching it with a disabled person saves both lives. Whether the dog is for a combat veteran with PTSD or a diabetic child, trauma and illness affect everyone who lives with or cares about a disabled person. OFP works with clients' families ensuring caregivers & loved ones also have the help they need. Dogs give clients the ability to be in public and go to their kids' performances, on family vacations, to school and to work. These dogs love their people, and their jobs, too!
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).