STANTON, TX (KWES) - Freedom Service Dogs is back in West Texas for their second annual Faces of Freedom clay shoot tournament. It's all to raise proceeds for their program that provides the services and training for their service dogs.
The service dogs are rescued dogs and are customized-trained. They are given completely free to veterans and people with disabilities. They're able to perform tasks like opening a door, turning on/off a light, or retrieve an item.
"Our mission is to transfer shelter dogs into life changing service dogs for people in need," said CEO Michele Ostrander. "Veterans have given to us. We're here because of their willingness to step forward and defend and take care of us. We need to give back. It's our duty and responsibility to serve them."
Marine Corps veteran, John Brush and his service dog Agave joined the clay shoot to share their story. Brush tells us he didn't think he needed a service dog, but through the help of Freedom Service Dogs of America, it all changed. Brush struggled to get back to school and through the support of Agave, he now has his Master's and is teaching high school physical education.
"I came home a very different person," said Brush. "I struggled a lot with depression, anger and anxiety. Once I did get her, I started to become more and more of my original self. Without her, I wouldn't be where I am right now."
It costs about $30,000 to train one dog. This year, they expect to net more than $300,000.
"It's because of the generosity of the community. The belief they have in our mission and what we do and how we absolutely need to help veterans," said Ostrander.
"The life that I've created having her would be a million times different if I didn't have her," said Brush. "I truly feel I wouldn't be as succesful as I am right now, as independent as I am right now or as happy as I am right now. Without that support, she's not here and I can't be more grateful."
For more information about the program, visit their website here.