VOLUNTEER WITH FSD
Looking for a fun and fulfilling way to make a difference? We need YOU to join our Freedom Service Dogs team!
We offer a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, so there’s sure to be one that suits your interests, skills, and schedule. Whether you prefer to hang out with puppies or adult dogs, support special events that raise money for our organization, or do vital behind-the-scenes work at our office, we have a great gig for you!
While our most urgent need is for puppy raisers and weekend fosters, we are also seeking volunteers to assist onsite at our training facility in Englewood, Colo. Check out all of our current volunteer opportunities below, then fill out the corresponding Volunteer Application that matches your interest.
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Kind and caring volunteers share their talent and time to make our mission possible. Thank you, volunteers!
BECOME A PUPPY RAISER We need your help to raise the next generation of Freedom Service Dogs!
We urgently need volunteers to help raise the next generation of Freedom Service Dogs! More and more puppies born at FSD enter our training program each year—and every one of these small service dog candidates needs a volunteer puppy raiser to help them reach their full potential. If you can help raise a puppy in your home for 10 to 12 months, we want you!
NOTE: We are currently seeking puppy raisers throughout Colorado and in select satellite locations. Our current focus is on expanding our puppy raising program in the following locations: The Villages, FL; Fenton, MI; and Midland/Odessa, TX. Due to the time and resources required to place puppies in satellite locations, we are unable to travel to additional satellite locations for puppy placement at this time. However, if you live in another area of the country and are willing to travel to FSD at your own expense, please contact us for more information about out-of-state opportunities.
Our puppies range from 2 to 4 months old, with some already housetrained and crate trained, and others needing instruction in those areas. As a puppy raiser, you’ll supply love, basic obedience training, and socialization. FSD will provide special training, both online and in-person, using social distancing and other protocols designed with your safety and well-being in mind. You will also receive continuous guidance and ongoing support from FSD staff and fellow puppy raisers, as well as supplies.
NEW! We are now offering the option to co-raise a puppy so you can share your puppy raising responsibilities with an approved and trained friend, family member, or neighbor who wants to help out.
Are you considering becoming a volunteer puppy raiser, but thinking you might not be in the right situation to commit?
Too busy? Too expensive? No yard? No dog training experience? Kids or other pets in your home? No worries!
We’ve collected the most common reasons why people think they can’t volunteer to raise an FSD puppy—and why we say, “Yes, you can!”
PUPPY RAISING FAQS
If you are between the ages of 14–16, you are eligible to participate in puppy raising; however, you must be listed as a secondary handler. A parent/guardian must participate as the primary handler and point of contact.
If you are between the ages of 16–18, you are eligible to be the primary handler, but you must have a parent/guardian sign off on your participation in the puppy raising program. Your parent/guardian must also agree to be a secondary point of contact.
First, complete the Puppy Raiser Application. Each member of the household 18+ must complete the background check portion of the application. Once FSD has received your application, we will reach out to you with the rest of the onboarding process. You will be required to sign a Puppy Raiser and Training Agreement, a Puppy Raiser Covid Waiver, read the Puppy Raiser Binder, and schedule a phone meeting with our Puppy Development Coordinator.
Most puppies are placed with a raiser after completing their prison training to learn their basic cues. Puppies will usually be in a raiser home from the age of two to four months old until around 13 or 14 months old.
No! We do not require a fenced yard; in fact, many of our clients do not have fenced yards. We welcome puppy raisers who live in homes without a fenced yard, as well as in apartments, townhomes, condos, etc.
FSD provides food, vaccinations, medical care, collar, leash, crate, various toys, treat pouch, clicker, and a service dog trainee vest.
Puppy raisers are required to attend at least one lesson at FSD or group puppy outing with a staff member per month. If scheduling is an issue, let FSD staff know and they will work with you.
All puppies are fed and treated using Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy kibble. Avoid incorporating high-value treats (hot dogs, chicken, cheese, training treats), as this will create a picky puppy.
Yes, many puppy raisers have other dogs, cats, birds, chickens, and reptiles. Your pets must be able to cohabitate with the puppy and get along after any initial introductory periods. If you already have a dog under the age of one year in your home, we ask that you wait to raise a puppy until your dog is more mature, or at least over the age of one year. Trust us: having two puppies at one time is more than a handful!
FSD encourages raisers to travel with puppies when feasible. This is usually limited to road trips or taking public transit, as airlines are raising their restrictions. However, if the puppy is ready and the airline allows, we do allow puppies on airplanes.
FSD has volunteers who are able to help puppy sit. If you know that you will be out of town or just need a weekend break from the puppy, let us know and we will work to find a puppy sitter.
While puppies are wearing their service dog vests, they should be in training mode. This means no roughhousing, trying to pull toward other dogs, people, etc. When puppies are walking on-leash without their vests, they should be well-mannered and paying attention to their handler. When puppies are off-leash, they can tear around with other dogs, sit in your lap on the floor to cuddle, zoom around the house, chew on their toys, and be puppies.
FSD does not allow puppies to be on human beds or furniture while in the raiser home. This is to avoid creating the expectation that the puppy can jump onto furniture whenever they please. Raisers are encouraged to put some cushions on the floor and sit with the puppies.
Yes, when the puppies and raisers are both ready. We encourage raisers to slowly expose the puppies to a variety of new stimuli and experiences. Once you and the puppy are ready, talk to FSD staff about going camping or trail hiking. We want to ensure that the puppies are ready for so many new distractions and that it will be a positive experience.
We are placing cohorts (groups) of puppies every 1 ½ – two months with puppy raisers. Once you have completed the onboarding process, staff will give you an approximate puppy placement date.
Become a puppy sitter! Look after a puppy in your home for a short period of time
If you're not ready to commit to 10 months of puppy raising but are interested in hosting an FSD puppy in your home for short stints, puppy sitting may be for you! We always need volunteers who can look after our young service dog hopefuls when their raisers go out of town or have other prescheduled obligations.
- Puppy sitters go through FSD orientation and onboarding in exactly the same way as our puppy raisers to ensure consistency in training protocols and behavior expectations.
- Puppy sitters are responsible for maintaining all training and behavior expectations while the puppy is in their home, even if just for a short period of time.
- Puppy sitters are welcome to do weekend fostering for our adult dogs in training as well, but not at the same time.
BECOME A WEEKEND FOSTER Give our dogs in training experience in a home environment on the weekend
As a weekend foster for FSD, you will bring an adult dog in training into your home for the weekend, typically from Friday evening until Monday morning. This provides our dogs with some much-needed relaxation and time away from our kennels. It also helps our trainers learn what behaviors the dog presents in a home environment so they can work on those behaviors and ultimately determine what type of home the dog will succeed in when matched with an FSD client.
WEEKEND FOSTER FAQS
Weekend fostering is flexible! We require that all fosters commit to a minimum of six weekends a year to remain active. They do not have to be consecutive weekends.
First, you will attend a virtual orientation to learn more about FSD and our current volunteer opportunities. Next, you will complete a volunteer application and background check. From there, if you are interested in becoming a weekend foster, you will attend a virtual foster orientation and complete a virtual dog body-language class, an in-person foster dog walking class, and a virtual home inspection.
We try to keep foster homes and dogs as consistent as possible, but for a variety of reasons, that may not always happen.
You’ll work with our dog operations coordinator to sign up for time slots that fit your schedule. Typically, dogs are picked up on Friday evening and brought back to FSD on Monday morning.
FSD provides everything weekend foster volunteers should need for their foster dogs, including: food, medication, supplements, collar, leash, crate, and toys. All vaccinations and veterinary expenses are covered.
No, adult dogs in training are not permitted in public, as they do not have the same public-access rights as puppies in the homes of volunteer puppy raisers.
FSD does not allow dogs to be on human beds or any other human furniture while in the home. This is to avoid the expectation that the dog can jump onto furniture whenever they please.
All weekend fosters will be equipped with a crate (provided by FSD if you don’t already have one), and the dog is expected to be crated both while you are gone and while sleeping at night. We ask that dogs are not crated for more than a few hours at a time if you leave the house.
Yes, but only if it is preapproved by the dog’s FSD staff trainer. All outings and adventures must be discussed with FSD staff prior to bringing the dog home.
VOLUNTEER ONSITE There are a variety of ways to volunteer at our facility!
Work alongside our kennel technicians to care for our hardworking adult dogs in training and keep their kennels in tip-top shape. Read full job description to learn more about this opportunity.
Spend quality, one-on-one time with our hardworking adult dogs in training to provide enrichment and husbandry activities in their kennels, helping to create positive experiences so they are more able to relax and enjoy quiet time. Read full job description to learn more about this opportunity.
Assist FSD staff in facilitating safe and effective playgroups for our adult dogs in training. This is an important time for our hardworking dogs to play and socialize with their canine friends, while getting out extra puppy energy so they can focus on learning. Read full job description to learn more about this opportunity.
Help care for tiny, adorable puppies and expectant mama dogs (yes, there will be puppy breath!). Must be 16 years old to volunteer in the nursery.
Cart our precious canine cargo to and fro in one of our cute, custom Freedom Service Dogs vans!
Assist our Client Services team during placement class, when our clients and their new service dogs come together for bonding, training, and getting ready to start their new lives together.
Do you like data? Swoon over spreadsheets? Love talking on the telephone? We are always in need of volunteers to help with administrative projects.
Are you a natural party planner with an eye for detail and a flair for promotion? Help us plan and execute FSD fundraising events throughout the year.
Yes. The minimum age requirement for new volunteer applicants is 16 years of age.
If you are 18 years or older, yes.
Our scheduling is very flexible! We just ask that volunteers commit to an average of four hours per month to remain active.
No. We do not allow family members or friends to volunteer with you unless they have gone through the same orientation, onboarding, and training.
Each volunteer role is different; however, it typically takes volunteers about one month to get through the onboarding process (including watching videos) and complete required classes for specific volunteer positions.
After you complete the volunteer application and a successful background check, our volunteer and community outreach coordinator will send you an email with lots of information. It will include an orientation video and a Dog Body Language training video, along with instructions on how to sign up for our in-person dog walking class (if required for your volunteer position).
We are unable to offer group volunteer opportunities at this time. Please check back for updates.
Interested in learning about event sponsorship or corporate partnership opportunities? Please contact Nadine Pace [email protected] or 303-922-6231 x216.