Waverly nonprofit asks for help training service dogs for Veterans

Retrieving Freedom is asking for volunteers to take prospective service dogs home to help train service dogs for everyday situations.
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 6:30 AM CST
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WAVERLY, Iowa (KCRG) - A nonprofit that pairs service dogs with either Veterans or children on the autism spectrum is asking the community for help training these dogs for real life.

Retrieving Freedom, which has been operating and training animals for over a decade, is looking to have paired 150 dogs with owners by the end of this year.

With nearly 100 dogs in training right now, they are asking volunteers to take the dogs home to practice for real-life situations.

“If you could come to retrieving freedom, pick up a dog for the weekend - take it to your home,” Calvin Ver Mulm, Major Gifts Officer with Retrieving Freedom, said.

They are trained at this facility in Waverly to be able to accommodate owners in physical or mental distress, the goal is to be especially helpful with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Calvin Ver Mulm says they hope to fill a dire need in the veteran community.

”At this time 22 veterans a day that are committing suicide in our country,” Ver Mulm said. “That needs to stop and these dogs are making a huge impact.”

It takes around two years to train each dog with around $30,000 spent per dog.

They need volunteers to help prepare dogs for real life, meaning they need people to take the dogs home for a few days or even on vacation.

Calvin encourages people to help the organization out by volunteering to watch a dog while in training or chipping in with cash and food donations.

The group bred 18 puppies just this fall, and while they try to train all of them to the best of their ability - only half become official service dogs.