We are raising and training Labrador retrievers to be gifted as service dogs to deserving war Veterans. We have chosen to specifically breed Labrador retrievers that are calm, intelligent, patient, obedient, and devoted. The dogs are also bred for their natural hunting ability. These service dogs’ primary focus must be their veteran and the tasks they perform for that veteran. They will also be capable of serving as a hunting companion to those veterans who find healing through hunting and outdoor activities.
Veterans are recommended to us by a friend, directed to us by a partner organization, or learn about us through social media. We serve veterans from all generations and conflicts. Each veteran will visit with a member of Labs for Liberty regarding their needs, expectations, and qualifications for a service dog. A simple application is completed, including submission of their MOS, DD214 and disability designation per the VA. Upon approval of their application, a pup will be identified that will meet their needs and that pup will begin the process of socialization and training.
Our selection and training process can be briefly summarized as follows:
-Identify recipient’s needs
-Select pup based on recipients needs
-Train pup basic obedience, commands, and initial service tasks
-Pups must be able to pass AKC Good Citizen Test Qualifications and Public Access test
-Recipient is brought to Liberty Outpost in Utah where they meet and train with their pup prior to returning home. As the program grows, trainers may travel to recipients, although this is to be determined.
-Follow up and further training as indicated. Lifelong support will be provided for each pair.
Our pups are in the community being socialized from the time we receive them at 8-12 weeks old, to the time their Veteran receives them. We focus on putting the pup in environments similar to those in which their Veteran lives, in order to desensitize them to distractions and allow them to focus on their tasks and handler. We custom train each pup specifically for their veteran’s needs, allowing us to get the pup and Veteran together sooner than in traditional programs. With 22 Veteran suicides per day and the large number of Veterans who would benefit from a service dog, we believe custom training a dog that can also be an outdoors companion allows us to better serve our Veterans with a quicker turn-around time.
Our services and the pups are free to Veterans. Our staff members are entirely volunteer.