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Who is eligible for a Service Dog through Retrieving Freedom?

Retrieving Freedom trains Service Dogs for Veterans and children with autism. Veteran applicants must have an honorable discharge on their DD214 and a service-related disability. Autism applicants must have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and apply to the program between the ages of five and eleven. 

How do I apply for a Service Dog?

Applications for both Veteran and autism programs can be found on our website. The application process includes several steps, 

  1. Apply. The first step is to submit an application. Once we have received the application and supporting documents, your application will be reviewed by staff. Completion of the application process does not guarantee that you will be matched with a dog. 
  2. Phone Consult. Based on your application, you may be contacted for a phone consultation. This consultation gives you and RFI staff the opportunity to discuss the application and learn more about what you are looking for in a service dog. 
  3. In Person Consult. You will be invited to the Missouri or Iowa office for the in-person consultation. This allows everyone to meet in person and let you tour the facility and ask any remaining questions as the application period comes to a close. 
  4. Acceptance. If your application is accepted, our training staff will let you know via email or phone. 
  5. Training. After acceptance to the program, you will begin the training process. Clients are typically in the training period of 18-24 months. 
  6. Certification. When training at the facility is completed you and your service dog will participate in a public access test. This test will demonstrate the tasks the service dog was trained for along with testing the dog in a public setting. When the test is passed the team is officially placed. It is encouraged to continue practicing with the dog regularly to maintain the skills and good habits. 
  7. Graduation. You will receive a digital ID card. Retrieving Freedom will maintain ongoing contact with you throughout the dog's working career. It is very important to us that you and your dog continue to work well together, and we will provide guidance as requested. Graduates complete a yearly public access test every year the dog is working. 

What does it cost to get a Service Dog?

Retrieving Freedom Inc. does not charge clients for their Service Dogs. There is a $30 background check fee when submitting the initial application. 

However, applicants are expected to acknowledge the costs of dog care and well-being following placement of a service dog. Costs to research and consider:

  • Food
  • Supplies (quality toys, treats, and grooming tools)
  • Wellness care (annual exams, monthly preventatives, regular vaccinations) 
  • Emergency veterinary care 
  • Pet insurance premiums 

How long is your waitlist for placement?

Our waitlist for placement is around 2 years. 

Can you train my dog to become a Service Dog?

No, RFI only uses dogs that have been specifically bred and selected for service work.

Does Retrieving Freedom train protection dogs?

No. Retrieving Freedom does not train or give the perception of any forms of guarding, protecting, or searching for potential threats. 

Where are Retrieving Freedom Service Dogs trained?

Dogs are trained at our training facilities in Waverly, IA and Sedalia, MO. 

What states do you serve?

As long as individuals are able to make it to one of our facilities for trainings, RFI serves clients from across the United States.

How do Service Dogs help children with autism?

Great question! You can learn more about how Service Dogs help children with autism here:

How does Retrieving Freedom obtain their puppies?

We have a small in-house breeding program, and we also partner with reputable breeders nationwide to purchase puppies. 

How can I help raise/train puppies for Retrieving Freedom?

Become a volunteer foster! We are always looking for dedicated individuals to help us raise our next generation of Service Dogs! We have full-time, temporary and weekend fostering opportunities available. If you are interested in fostering one of our Service Dogs in training or learning more, please contact [email protected] (IA) or [email protected] (MO). 

How much does it cost to raise and train a Service Dog Cost?

On average it costs Retrieving Freedom $30,000 to fully raise, train, and place a Service Dog. However, there is no cost to our clients to receive a Service Dog. 

How can I help?

We have many opportunities to get involved; from volunteering, shopping for items from our Amazon Wishlist, monetary donation, host a fundraiser, and more. For questions, or to learn more please reach out to [email protected]

What are the qualities you look for in a Service Dog?

Service dogs must be people friendly, confident in public, and enjoy learning! We also have a few size requirements, depending on the type of work the dog will be performing. 

What happens if a dog is not a good fit for Service Dog work?

If a dog is not a good fit for Service Work, they become amazing family pets! Occasionally we have a small number of dogs that become available to the general public. If you are interested in adopting one of our career change dogs or learning more, please contact [email protected] (IA) or [email protected] (MO). 

Can a Service Dog go in public?

You can find out more information about the public access rights of Service Dogs by reading our blog: Understanding Service Dog Public Access Rules. 

Why do your dogs wear a muzzle?

It's a training lead. Think of it like a halter on a horse. This helps take pressure off of their throat. But they are still able to open their mouth, eat, and drink. 

If I see a Service Dog in public, how should I interact with them?

Here are some tips for appropriate interactions with service dogs: