Grant Received from 100 Women Charitable Foundation = $47,500
Operation Freedom Paws uses dogs to radically improve the lives of the disabled. The organization empowers veterans and others to live a quality life by teaching them to train their own dogs and form certified service dog teams. The dogs, often provided by rescue organizations and shelters, are matched according to each client’s specific physical and psychological needs. There is no charge for the dogs or the 48-week (minimum) training program.
Operation Freedom Paws helps veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and/or mobility issues. Many veterans are at high risk of suicide unless they receive much-needed assistance dealing with these serious conditions. Adult civilians and children who suffer from diabetes, seizure disorders, severe allergies muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and autism also benefit from training their dogs to assist with their health conditions and physical disabilities.
As the organization has grown, Operation Freedom Paws has added role-playing exercises to help clients respond confidently and learn how to self-advocate. In the spring and fall, family members and clients travel to Yosemite for additional training, socializing, playing games, and relaxing. Clients become comfortable travelling with their dogs in unfamiliar settings and develop relationships that often continue long after clients become certified.
The final step of the certification process is a 7-hour monitored public access test in which the client demonstrates control of his or her service dog while taking it in and out of vehicles, into restaurants and grocery stores, and around children and unfamiliar dogs. After becoming certified, many clients remain active in the Operation Freedom Paws Family because “everything, every day is a training opportunity.”
A grant from 100 Women Charitable Foundation will allow Operation Freedom Paws to expand into and equip a larger San Martin facility. The facility will allow the organization to accept new clients from the over 85-person waiting list and provide a more effective training environment. The new facility will also help Operation Freedom Paws become more self-sustaining by offering for-fee services to the general public such as boarding, grooming, and doggie daycare.