We at PRIDE+GROOM have always been concerned about animal welfare and animal advocacy. And we are not alone. Animal welfare takes on many forms. It can mean marine mammal rescue, protecting endangered species, etc. Bringing public awareness to all forms of animal issues whether wild animals, farm animals or domesticated ones liked dogs and cats, is extremely important. Supporting these organizations can take the form of helping to raise funds or volunteering with other programs. We wanted to salute the women and men and animal charities they represent that give back to the animal society and care for their well-being with a series of interviews to highlight the amazing work non-profit organizations do around the country. These volunteers and founders are integral to the lives of so many animals that do not have a voice.
Introduction: One Fur All, All For One!
Since its inception, PRIDE+GROOM's mission was to give back to the animal charities and fight against animal cruelty and support animal welfare. We started much like other companies, by donating a percentage of our proceeds, but that didn't feel immediate or specific enough to our mission. We wanted to do something that was more connected to our work and to our product. Because more often than not, animals arrive at shelters in rough shape--they're dirty, matted, dry and dehydrated, we developed THE ONE FUR ALL, a highly conditioning version of our shampoo, and packaged it solely for shelter donation and use. We also have also acted as volunteers and donated our time to washing dogs and preparing them for their forever homes.
To date, PRIDE+GROOM has donated over 1400 gallons to shelters across the country. We estimate, at minimum, that represents over 70,000 needy animals who got some TLC and a fresh new coat.
Our ONE FUR ALL program has introduced us to many amazing women and men who are doing incredible work to support and uplift animals and in turn our communities as a whole. Over the next few months we will be featuring their stories and more information about their incredible organizations. These heroes really make a difference and we want to celebrate their work.
Non Profit dog organizations - The Service Dog Spotlight: Patriot Services Dogs
To launch this series, we are proudto share our interview with Julie Sanderson founder of an organization named Patriot Service Dogs, located in Ocala, Florida whose program provides highly trained service dogs for army veterans.
PG: When and why was Patriot Service Dogs established?
The organization was founded in 2009. After working with several service dogs and service dog organizations, I saw veterans waiting years for a quality service dogs or paying thousands of dollars for one. Patriot Service Dogs was established to help those veterans and pairing them with the best service dogs possible. After starting the WOOF Prison Program in 2011 and seeing what the women had to offer our organization and community by training to be service dogs handlers -- helping them restart their lives also became a part of the mission. The organization has grown organically to become a win-win for our community.
PG: Can you describe Patriot Service Dogs’ mission?
Patriot Service Dogs train service dogs for veterans without cost utilizing the skills of women incarcerated at Lowell Correctional Facility. This dual purpose organization allows PSD to serve veterans and empower women staff members. The ability to make a difference in two peoples lives at the same time is extremely rewarding. The service dogs themselves become best friends with their veteran and their trainer.
PG: What motivated you to found this non-profit organization?
I co-founded Patriot Service Dogs in 2009. After being involved with several other organizations that train service dogs, I wanted to create an organization with a focused mission and a true community feel. Patriot Service Dogs is a very small organization, but our small size means that as the President of the organization I still know every service dog, puppy raiser, inmate-trainer, and veteran personally. Those close personal relationships are really what makes life at PSD special.
PG: What is one of your most memorable moments at Patriot Service Dogs?
In 2022, Patriot Service Dogs became a member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI). ADI is the leading authority on assistance service dogs worldwide; there are less than 150 member organizations worldwide. It takes years of hard work and an in-person multiday evaluation of every part of the organization to become a member. But membership shows that PSD is following the highest standards of service dog training and placement. It also helps some of our veterans receive financial help to care for their service dogs. When we finally got the news, it felt unreal for a long time.
PG: Can you share a photo of this moment?
This is Duke, a puppy in service dog training at the time, the day we got the ADI announcement!
PG: What was a challenging moment for you at Patriot Service Dogs?
Obviously Covid was hard for Patriot Service Dogs, as it was for everyone. We couldn't do any fundraising and many grants closed so it was hard financially. The WOOF Prison Program was on a strict lockdown, so it was also difficult to make sure the service dogs received a good training balance of time in WOOF and out. We also changed our entire advanced training program with wounded veterans, so it was done in smaller groups and included more outside activities. Now it feels like we've finally bounced back and some of the changes we made to advanced training have stuck and improved that part of the service dogs program. We learned a lot--but we definitely don't want to go back.
PG: Other than donating money, are there any other ways people can help and get involved at Patriot Service Dogs?
If you are in Central Florida, we are always looking for volunteer puppy service dog raisers! But following Patriot Service Dogs on social media, and signing up for our digital newsletter is helpful from anywhere. It's important for small nonprofits like PSD to be able to show we have widespread support.
PG: Do you have any plans for the future of the organization?
Right now, we are working on building our volunteer program across Central Florida and a new program called Whitman's Warrior Project. The project will sponsor rescue puppies to join our service dog training program. It's named after our WOOF Prison Program mascot, a one-eyed pit bull named Whitman. "Whit" was adopted by the prison program years ago and he is beloved by the women in the program and the entire facility. It's been great to honor the old guy with this and we're excited to have the first puppy sponsored by the program join us once the funds are raised.
Conclusion: In Dog We Trust
Thank you Julia and her entire team for taking the time to talk to us. We are grateful for the work Patriot Services Dogs does and are extremely proud to support them by donating our One Fur All Gallons and fund raising for them as an optional check out “round-up” for those in our generous community who want to promote amazing animal organizations like Patriot Service Dogs!
If you want to support PSD training center to provide more animals to develop communities of veterans with partner pets, please visit their website, where you can donate or find helpful resources Together, we can make a difference in the lives of companion and their partners. Thank you for your support!