Freedom for Veterans, Dogs with a Mission.
Your generous donation helps fundamentally transform the lives of our veterans, their families, and our communities. In 2020, over 97% of our expenses were directly related to our programs for veterans and service dogs.
PTSD can be described as a mental health condition that may result from experiencing or witnessing trauma. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, depression, and confusion. This condition—often accompanied by major depression and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI)—can make it difficult, if not impossible, to meet the normal demands of daily life. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 deployed veterans die by suicide every day in the United States.
(Office of Suicide Prevention, “Suicide Among Veterans and Other Americans, 2001–2014,” 2016).
Trained service dogs can provide an essential source of security, affection, and connection for our veterans. Believet™ dogs are custom-trained for mobility and psychiatric tasks. They can wake a veteran from a nightmare, ease their anxiety in a crowded public place, and provide comfort through companionship and physical contact. Our dogs also help keep veterans on a schedule because the dogs need care and attention on a regular basis. Believet™ provides highly trained service dogs, free of charge, to disabled veterans, helping them to lead more productive, independent lives. A service dog provides a sense of security, greater independence, non-judgmental acceptance, affection, physical assistance, and peace of mind.
Where they come from:
Believet™ finds and adopts potential service dogs from a network of shelters and rescues and also receives donated dogs who were bred for the purpose of service work from generous individuals.
Our dogs are in training for 12-18 months learning basic obedience and service skills. We use positive reinforcement methods to teach new skills and make the transition from trainer to veteran seamless. We train at our facility, restaurants, shopping centers, colleges, on buses, trams, airports, and even take a plane ride.
On the weekends, our dogs relax at foster homes where they get to be a dog and learn how to be a good citizen in a family environment. Donated puppies that are too young to start training live with a puppy raising foster until they are old enough to start their formal training.
When the dog is paired with their veteran, the team trains together with guidance from our professional trainers for 120 hours. During that time, the dog learns custom service skills unique to that veteran.
Once the team passes their Public Access Test at the end of their 120 hours of training, they have successfully completed our program.
Dog Spotlight: Meet Hero
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Hero came to us from the Mankato Animal Shelter and quickly became a favorite with his hard working, easy going attitude, and majestic Clydesdale prance. He was the first Believet™ dog to attend a Twins game. We soon started saying, “If we had 100 Heroes, this would be easy.” Hero has since graduated and gone to live and work with his veteran.
To see the service dogs in training, graduating teams, and news, see our Facebook page!
Believet™’s training facility is located on 12 acres just 3 miles outside of Northfield, Minnesota, (45 minutes south of Minneapolis). Our facility is heated and air-conditioned, and includes indoor and outdoor training spaces, and fenced outdoor airing yards. We can accommodate a maximum of 25 dogs at capacity.