Do you have a facility? In November 2016 one of our Officers generously financed a Four Acre plot of land which will be our facility. Located in Harris County, Ga , this beautiful, peaceful, quiet, haven of rest for the dogs and veterans includes a house and an metal outbuilding which will house the dogs in training to be service dogs. We are excited about everything this property offers to include a great deal of room to exercise for the dogs, the incredible state of art kennels we will build, the indoor training facility we will build, and the housing we will build for our future service dog handlers to reside in while they are learning to be a service dog handler.
When you come through these gates you witness nature’s beauty as peace and love settle into your core as that is what we embody. Grape vines, pear and fig trees capture your vision as you also watch the playful spirit of the pups as they run, play, chase either, and come give you a check in nudge on the leg giving you their love.
Leaving the outside world temporarily behind you become totally engaged in the incredible sense of serenity and happiness. You become intertwined with nature and it’s comforting healing combined with the dogs abilities to take you to places you never anticipated. Your heart opens and your mind clears and expands.
As you watch the flames from the fire dance clearing and purging away hurt and pain you realize this had been a not only a moment but a place of healing which will greatly enrich your life making you want to come back again. This is your sanctuary and this is Freedom Fidos.
How do you get your dogs? Freedom Fido’s is proud to rescue and train dogs from local animal shelters. Shelters are the primary source of the dogs we train to be service dogs. Additionally we have a percentage of our veterans which require a hypo allergenic dog requiring us to get those dogs from individuals which breed dogs. We have also been very grateful to the breeders which have a heart for veterans and donate their dogs to us. One such organization is Newpuppies4u. We are extremely grateful to Dave and Lisa for the way they love dogs, the dogs they have donated to Freedom Fidos and how love what they do. They exhibit such incredible passion, ethics, and always come from a place of love.
Will you train a dog to be a service dog that already allows belongs to an individual?
We no longer offer this service.
Are your service dogs, “FREE”? We provide the dog, all training, as well as lifelong support, at no cost to the individual. However, the services we provide are not free. Any veteran who receives our services already paid for them many times over due to the sacrifices they made and continue to make for our Country. After the selection criterion is met, any individual who chooses to receive our service will go through intensive training during which time they will be expected to invest themselves learning how to be a service dog handler with the same intensity that we will invest ourselves in them. Freedom Fido’s will expect full compliance and excellence in the way they represent the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act, Freedom Fido’s, and service dogs at large, as they exemplify a high degree of ethics, professionalism, and tolerance. Additionally each service dog handler is expected to comply with our monthly home checks, weekly check in, 3 month re-certification process, attend events with the organization, and be involved with the community, as well as other policies we have in place.
What percentage of your donations goes to the veterans or children? 100% goes to the dogs, organization, and facility.
How long does it take you to train a service dog? 2 years.
Does anyone associated with Freedom Fido’s receive a salary? No. Any individual who is associated with Freedom Fido’s, to include the Founder, our Board Members, trainers, and the volunteers, already had a salary before they were carefully selected. They work tirelessly for Freedom Fido’s simply because they care about humanity. They choose to play a significant role which helps us deliver the services we provide. Their contributions dramatically increase the quality of life for the people we serve. They all have a proven track record of success in their personal, public, and business lives. In the future in order to more adequately meet the demand (200 plus individuals) we might have to change this practice. As needed we will pay service dog trainers.
How much does it cost you to train a service dog? By the time we place a SUPERHERO service dog we have invested $24,000. While we are not at the lowest end of the spectrum with this figure we are on the lower end of the spectrum. Many service dogs organizations state $20,000 and above. The Veterans Administration pays their service dog contractors $40,000 to $60,000.We are grateful for any and all donations which are held in escrow until we are able to start training a service dog.
Fidoes4Heroes(DBA Freedom Fidos) Finances: One Hundred percent of all donations go back to the organization, the dogs, and the veterans. No member of Freedom Fidos takes a salary. A 990(n) Postcard was filed in December of 2016 as our donations received was far below $50,000…At the end of our fiscal year, January 2018, our accountant will file a 990 long form which with Board approval will be published on our website. YTD October 13, 2017, $10,000 has been received by Freedom Fidos. We are very grateful for the amazing support.
How many Service dog Handlers do you have? We have placed 36 service dogs and have a waiting list of 200 plus individuals.
What is the process to get a service dog: Freedom Fidos provides task-trained service dogs to veterans with physical disabilities. We specialize in training service dogs for veterans with traumatic brain injuries.
If you feel you meet this criteria, please fill out an application. You will need medical documentation as evidence of your physical disability and a medical professional’s explanation of how a service dog can assist you and improve your daily activities of living.
Upon review of your application, we will notify you of any additional information we may need from you. If we feel that Freedom Fidos can provide you with a service dog, we will notify you directly to schedule a phone interview or face to face meeting if possible.
Our selection committee will discuss with you physical needs, challenges you face, your living situation, our policies and expectations we have of you as a potential Freedom Fidos Service dog handler.
Selection for Freedom Fidos Service Dog Freedom Fidos, will create a detailed application for potential candidates to fill out. The primary goal for creating the application will to be able to target veterans who will be the most willing and open candidates to an alternative means of treatment and need it. This application will be easily accessible on the Freedom Fidos website.
All participants must meet the following requirements to apply for the Freedom Fido Service Dog.
If honorably discharged from active duty (veteran status) they must submit:
Completed application for Freedom Fidos Service Dog
DD 214 (Social Security should be blacked out except last four digits)
Demonstrate their need for services by their VA rating and/or medical discharge status from the Armed Services with primary injuries being TBI and other physical injuries
Demonstrate how a service dog can alleviate a physical disability.
Provide legitimate medical evidence that supports the need of a service dog.
Written and Video Bio for the Freedom Fidos Website.
If still on active duty (soldier status) they must submit:
Completed application for Freedom Fidos Service Dog
Be a current member of the Warrior Transitions Unit
A letter of recommendation from their nurse case manager
Approval letter from their Commander
Primary injuries being TBI and other physical injuries
Demonstrate how a service dog can alleviate a physical injury
Provide legitimate medical evidence that supports the need of a service dog.
Written and Video Bio for the Freedom Fidos Website
After applications are submitted Freedom Fidos Board of Directors will closely review all applications and make recommendations as to which applicants will be referred to the interview process. Once interviews have been conducted to see how committed the wounded veteran is to moving forward with intentions of improving one’s overall well-being, the board will make a decision.
If we determine that you are a good candidate for a service dog, we will place you on our waiting list. While Freedom Fidos strives to maintain list integrity or first come first serve very rarely does this happen for various reasons. We will select and begin to train the dog once we have raised adequate funds to maintain the dog while in training. Please send your written and video bio Matt@Freedom Fidos.org.
“That is a cool trick your dog does:” Anything you see our dogs do is not a trick. It is either an example of a task we can teach the dog, or it is an actual task the dog already does in order to help its handler.
Your dog’s look like they don’t miss a meal. Absolutely they don’t because they are our fur kids and we love them. Per our vets recommendation every dog we have is right at its perfect weight or 1-3 pounds under weight. We use Rachel Ray Just six, in addition to a raw food diet as well as supplements
What are your training techniques?
Connection- We feel that this overcomes a great deal of training.
We strive to learn what motivates each individual dog-Whether that be treats, toys, praise, or tennis balls. Typically we find that a combination is what we end up using. Additionally we find that what is applicable in one moment may not be the same in another moment. Marker training is additionally used which is usually a simple yes or no. Repetition: doing the same thing every time. Because our dogs will be out in public as service dogs a great deal of de-sensitization is required. We find that because of connection and enhancing the dogs individuality we end up with very drivey dogs.
How much does it cost you to train a service dog? We have to have $13,000 in escrow before we can start training a service dog. While we are not at the lowest end of the spectrum with this figure we are on the lower end of the spectrum. The Veterans Administration pays their service dog contractors $40,000 to $60,000. We are grateful for any and all donations which are held in escrow until we are able to start training a service dog.
Fundraising Campaigns Freedom Fidos will have three main fundraising campaigns each year. These campaigns will be broken down in into these categories: General Funds, Facility Funds, and Service Dog Fund. General Funds: This fundraising will pay the monthly bills of running the nonprofit. Facility Funds: This fundraising will pay for the building of kennels, temporary quarters for veterans, offices, and general improvement of Freedom Fidos property. Service Dog Fund: This fundraising will pay for the training of a service dog for a veteran.
Fidoes4Heroes(DBA Freedom Fidos) Finances: One Hundred percent of all donations go back to the organization, the dogs, and the veterans. No member of Freedom Fidos takes a salary. Our fiscal year ends, December 31, 2017. January 2018, our accountant will file a 990 long form which with Board approval will be published on our website. YTD November 5, 2017, $10,500 has been received by Freedom Fidos. We are very grateful for the amazing support.
Do you accept dogs from individuals to be trained as service dogs? No. Our mission statement is to rescue dogs from shelters.
Who maintains your dogs health and welfare? VETERINARIAN TO FREEDOM FIDOS: Dr. Phil Carey,DVM, is the veterinarian to all our Freedom Fidos fur kids! Whether it's our pack or the fur kids in training to become a service dog for a veteran in need...we choose Dr. Carey. Located in Ellerslie,GA...Dr. Carey even makes house calls!
So if you are looking for an exceptional veterinarian who goes above and beyond...Freedom Fidos recommends Dr. Carey.
Target Population There are more than 250,000 disabled Veterans, men and women, that fit our target profile, according to data released by the Department of Veteran Affairs, 2014. This number has undoubtedly risen since that last report was issued. This is important information because just the sheer numbers of service men and women coming home injured has overwhelmed the underfunded, understaffed Veterans Administration. They cannot meet the needs of all wounded veterans in a timely manner, especially since veterans of the Global War on Terror are applying in record numbers.
This is why there is a desperate need within the wounded veteran population and why veteran oriented nonprofits are being started in record numbers. The needs of these wounded veterans are real, but the unfortunately many of these nonprofits are not created with a clear measurable program that fosters long term healing of veterans. They lack the transparency that is needed and ultimately millions of dollars from donors and supporters are wasted each year, while the need for their services continues to increase.
Freedom Fidos has been founded to provide services to the wounded veterans needing service dogs within United States.
Freedom Fidos will empower these wounded veterans with TBI and PTS by providing them a shelter rescued service animal, custom trained for them. Giving that Veteran the tools and motivation to adapt, overcome, and move forward as leaders. Freedom Fidos accomplishes this through the unique program called Freedom Fidos Service Dog program. This program is multifaceted, focusing on several different approaches to recovery during the twelve month training period. Freedom Fidos can measure the results of our program through the intake and exit interviews conducted with our program participants. Furthermore, Freedom Fidos, is committed to the reporting of these results and all information considered fundamental on how we run our organization.
Freedom Fidos Requirements During Program:
No Alcohol and/or Drugs No answers or resolutions come from the bottom of a bottle. No memories will ever be forgotten or erased from the use of drugs. During Freedom Fidos Service Dog programs all participants must agree not to use alcohol and/or drugs unless legally prescribed. If any participant breaks that agreement they will be asked to leave the program and will not be given a dog.
Freedom Fidos Pledge: Declaration of Contribution; I will make good things happen for other people. For those here now and those who come after us.. When things get tough and I fall short I will reminds myself I can accomplish anything, with time, effort, patience, and resilience. Anything When my situation is not the best I will do the best with what I have. I will be resourceful and responsible… I will get over myself and expect more of myself. I will be obligated to this world and the people in it. I will give more. I will enjoy more..
I will love openly I will fearlessly pursue my dreams I will express unlimited gratitude I will fearlessly connect
Mental Health Freedom Fidos Service Dog program requires all disabled Veterans to engage in activities that promote a sense of mental well being, i.e. Therapy, Group Therapy, Yoga, etc.
Nutrition Healing requires good nutrition. Physically, individuals need a strong daily regimen of vitamins, food, and supplements in order to create healthy minds and bodies.
Exercise Exercise is one of the most powerful activities individuals can do that aids their own healing process. The body’s response to exercise is overwhelming. Research shows that a regular exercise program will invoke natural endorphins that can help combat depression, anxiety, and anger. All of which are symptoms of both TBI and PTS.
Civic Service Research on service to others across the life span suggests that participation in civic service can influence many psychosocial factors in a person’s life leading to improvements in health and engagement with others. If disabled veterans are challenged to continue to serve in their communities, and if their well-being improves from participating in civic service, then the well-being of veterans and their communities will both improve. Membership with local Kiwanis club. Application to either NO Barriers or Project Sanctuary. Participation in local Pet Smart Canine Good Citizens Class.
Active involvement with Freedom Fidos: - commitment to something larger - Take Freedom Fidos Pledge - Attend minimum of 5 fundraisers during one year probation period - Minimum of monthly check in with Freedom Fidos. - 3 month recertification process - Speak at minimum of 5 local events
Write Acknowledging wartime experiences is an important part of recovering and moving forward. Writing allows participants an outlet to express personal thoughts rather than letting them fester within one’s conscience. Writing gives participants a voice. During service in the military soldiers lose their voice, their ability to express their ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. Once a veteran returns to society, this voice becomes difficult to regain and express among others. Every veteran has a story to tell and the Freedom Fido Service Dog program wants to provide an opportunity to tell one’s story.
Goals Individuals cannot chart a new course to make changes in one’s life without goals. Every participant will be required to set short and long term goals. Once participants have set these goals, Freedom Fidos Service Dog will help participants achieve them through motivation, support, as well as linking participants with the necessary people and/or resources that can help them achieve their goals.
Capstone: At the end of the twelve month program, all participants will be awarded permanent custody of their service dog. Freedom Fidos will award participants with a reminder of what they have accomplished, while encouraging them to stay on the path to a healthy future. Freedom Fidos also encourages participants to return to the program as mentors for subsequent Freedom Fidos participants.
Promotion The promotion of Freedom Fidos will be a grass roots campaign. A grass roots campaign will allow the organization to promote the programs message through individual communication rather than a large mass audience. Due to a tight startup budget, Freedom Fidos will need to campaign publicly, creating awareness one person at a time. Freedom Fidos will seek help from local media outlets, create a visible appearance at local events, and network at the chambers of commerce. Freedom Fidos plans to create working relationships with organizations considered strategic in helping the program reach it goals. Freedom Fidos will also create targeted messages to donors through direct mail and its use of social media, while developing annual fundraising events that will become fixtures within local communities. Most importantly, Freedom Fidos believes in commitment to transparency and results, which will ultimately lead to donors choosing to provide donations to Freedom Fidos.
Programs and Services Freedom Fidos Service Dog Freedom Fidos Service Dog is not just a dog, but a program designed to help soldiers deal with the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). The goal is to help these soldiers begin the path of moving forward, while empowering them with the tools to change their lives.
As a military member comes to terms with what happens in war; it is very important that they understand chasing an elusive goal like getting back to who they were before war is not going to help them move forward. Military members can never erase the memories of war; memories that remain for a lifetime. For the majority, it becomes difficult to let go of these memories while trying to embrace a future disconnected from the traumatic experiences associated with war.
TBI and PTS are injuries from which military members are most likely not to individually recover. Neurologically, these military member’s brains have changed due to the traumatic experiences associated with war. Even though these soldiers have not experienced any major bodily injuries and they remain strong physically, they often feel as if their injury is less significant than their buddies who have been shot, lost a limb, have been severely burned, etc. These military members eventually begin to withdraw from their families and friends creating a place in isolation that feels safe. Fear begins to overtake their lives and they become paralyzed. They are not able to look forward, only backwards.
The first step to overcoming this isolation is to encourage military members to realize and accept the change that has occurred within them personally. As with all change there are opportunities, challenges, and pitfalls. Thus the Freedom Fido Service Dog program has been created to help veterans recognize future opportunities, provide peer support through the challenges that arise with transition, and to help navigate military members away from the pitfalls that can easily consume a military member’s confidence.
The Freedom Fido Service Dog program is a twelve month long, multi-level approach to deal with both TBI and PTS through the use of a Service Dog.
Organization Organization Overview Fidos 4 Heroes, d.b.a. Freedom Fidos, is founded by a wounded veteran who discovered a gap in a much needed resource for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). It is evident that when traditional means of medical treatment concludes, military members still find it difficult to move forward, transitioning from military to civilian life. It is at this point that Freedom Fidos becomes an additional and much needed resource for veterans.
In the civilian community, there exists the following preconceived idea that life will resume normal for a veteran if he/she is able to transition back to the individual that existed prior to a military career. Unfortunately, once a military member has experienced traumatic situations as a result of active duty, it becomes challenging for this military member to retrieve his/her civilian identity; traumatic situations experienced in combat transform individuals for the remainder of one’s life.
Freedom Fidos fills this gap by providing veterans a service dog to cope with the significant changes that take place once a military member is released from active duty and transitions back into the civilian community. This is done through a multifaceted program that supports wounded veterans as they work toward developing healthy bodies and minds, while identifying new professional and personal opportunities to engage with the community.
Organization History Freedom Fidos was founded by Matt Burgess, a Wounded Warrior. He spent 8 years in the United States Army with deployments to Iraq, Bosnia, and Macedonia. During those deployments he experienced four blast explosions resulting in traumatic brain injury, while also experiencing a severe reaction to the Anthrax Vaccination, which resulted in eighteen different medical conditions. He was medically retired from the US Army in 2007 and received 100% permanent and total disability rating from the Veterans Administration.
In 2013 Matt’s shelter adopted dog, Brinks, was performing many lifesaving tasks for Matt every day. Consequently, Matt wanted Brinks to be trained to be his service dog. After extensive research Matt found an organization who would help him and he learned how to train Brinks to be his service dog.
After moving from South Carolina to Georgia, in late 2015, Matt started Fidos 4 Heroes, d.b.a. Freedom Fidos, which became an IRS approved 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit in September 2016. After receiving the nonprofit status, Freedom Fidos placed 7 dogs since its inception and has a waiting list of over 200 individuals.
In November 2016, Freedom Fidos purchased a four acre plot of land, in Shiloh GA. This location will be home to Freedom Fidos headquarters, kennels, and temporary lodging for the Veterans training with their dog.
Mission Statement The mission of Freedom Fidos is: To empower wounded veterans with TBI and other physical injuries, by providing them with a rescued shelter dog custom trained as their service dog. Giving the Veteran the tools and motivation to adapt, overcome, and move forward as leaders in their community in the same honorable manner in which they served the United States Armed Forces.
Freedom Fidos Logo: The name Freedom Fidos is not patriotic, it comes from the sincere desire to provide a service dog that gives a disabled Veteran the freedom to live their life and pursue a new more hopeful future.
The shield represents the support that the Veteran receives from Freedom Fidos, while also representing the protection that their service dog will provide them from all kinds of situations.
The three stars were strategically chosen to represent hope, light, and love. Reminding the Wounded Warrior each time they look at this patch that the sky is the limit.
The dog holding the flag is Brinks, Matt’s service dog. Brinks is who inspired Matt to not only continue to climb in life, but is who also gave him purpose. Since he was the one to inspire this path it is only fitting he inspire all the future disabled Veterans as well.
The colors chosen for the logo are based on eastern philosophies, in the hopes that they provide and promote a sense of healing and hope.
Donations and Fundraising Fundraising Campaigns
Freedom Fidos will have three main fundraising campaigns each year. These campaigns will be broken down in into these categories: General Funds, Facility Funds, and Service Dog Fund.
General Funds: This fundraising will pay the monthly bills of running the nonprofit.
Facility Funds: This fundraising will pay for the building of kennels, temporary quarters for veterans, offices, and general improvement of Freedom Fidos property.
Service Dog Fund: This fundraising will pay for the training of a service dog for a veteran.
Donation Structure (for service dog) Full Sponsorship - $24,000.00
Full sponsorship covers the entire cost of one participant for the entire duration of the Freedom Fidos Service Dog Program.
Each sponsor will receive the following: Sponsor’s company logo will be placed in a prominent position on the Freedom Fido Service Dog shirt, which will be worn by the Veteran at training and events. Sponsor’s company logo will receive top placement on Freedom Fidos website as a sponsor. Sponsor will receive a quality picture and frame of the Veteran and Service Dog displaying sponsor’s charitable involvement. Sponsor will also receive an official Freedom Fidos Service Dog shirt, like the one worn by the Veteran. Additionally, near completion of the program, the participant sponsored and the founder of Freedom Fidos will travel and speak to sponsor’s organization about the positive impact one’s donation has had in the life of the participant and Freedom Fidos.
Half Sponsorship - $12,000.00
Half sponsorship will cover half of the cost for one participant for the Freedom Fido Service Animal.
Each sponsor will receive the following: Sponsor’s company logo will be placed on the Freedom Fido Service Dog shirt, which will be worn by the Veteran at training and events. Sponsor’s company logo will receive top placement on Freedom Fidos website as a sponsor. Sponsor will receive a quality picture and frame of the Veteran and Service Dog displaying sponsor’s charitable involvement. Sponsor will also receive an official Freedom Fidos Service Dog shirt, like the one worn by the Veteran.
Sponsorship - $6,000.00
Sponsorship will provide support to all of the Freedom Fidos Service Dog participants.
Each sponsor will receive the following: Sponsor’s company logo will be placed on the Freedom Fidos t-shirts, which will be worn by all participants at trying and each event. Sponsor’s company logo will be listed on Freedom Fidos website as a sponsor. Sponsor will also receive an official Freedom Fidos Challenge t-shirt.
Friends of Freedom Fidos
$100.00 donation a month for 12 months **Sponsor will receive a t-shirt, water bottle, and will be listed on Freedom Fidos website as a supporter.
$75.00 donation a month for 12 months **Sponsor will receive a t-shirt and will be listed on Freedom Fidos as a supporter.
$50.00 donation a month for 12 months **Sponsor will receive a water bottle and will be listed on Freedom Fidos website as a supporter.
$25.00 donation a month for 12 months **Sponsor will be listed on Freedom Fidos website as a supporter
**Friends of Freedom Fidos will have the option of making a one-time payment or a recurring monthly payment. With one-time payments, gifts will arrive within 4-6 weeks. With recurring method payments, gifts will be sent out after the 11 month's donation, arriving within 4-6 weeks.
One Time Donation of Any Amount
Freedom Fidos accepts one time donations in any amount. Should one time donations meet the amount of any of the Friends of Freedom Fidos, sponsor will automatically receive the corresponding gifts identified under general fundraising guidelines. Gifts will arrive in 4-6 weeks.
Freedom Fidos Organizational Pledge,Promise,and Daily Commitment: Declaration of Contribution;
I will make good things happen for other people. For those here now and those who come after us.. When things get tough and I fall short I will remind myself I can accomplish anything, with time, effort, patience, and resilience. Anything When my situation is not the best I will do the best with what I have. I will be resourceful and responsible… I will get over myself and expect more of myself. I will be obligated to this world and the people in it. I will give more. I will enjoy more.. I will love openly I will fearlessly pursue my dreams I will express unlimited gratitude I will fearlessly connect I will remain committed to my internal authentic state of being.