For AAHA staff members, denims are more than just a fashion statement; they are a way to help both unwanted dogs and individuals with disabilities.

Throughout the year, AAHA staff members contribute a dollar each day they wear their "dress-down denims" (jeans) to the AAHA offices outside Denver, Colo. The funds are then pooled at the end of the year and given to a local Colorado charity as a holiday gift in the name of AAHA's chief executive officer, Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP. This year, staff collected $500 to present to Freedom Service Dogs.

Freedom Service Dogs is a nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by rescuing dogs and custom training them for individual client needs, at no cost to the client. The organization serves a variety of clients, including adults, children, veterans, and active-duty soldiers.

Freedom Service Dogs uses only dogs that are unwanted and abandoned, helping to solve the pet overpopulation problem.

Each service dog costs over $25,000 to rescue, house, feed, train, and care for medically.

"For some veterans, Freedom Service Dogs is their last hope," said Sharan Wilson, executive director of the organization. "But what a transformation we see in the year after they receive their service dog. I am humbled by the profound change they experience. It is awe-inspiring to witness the pride they take in living independent lives after receiving their service dogs."

The AAHA donation will be matched by the Freedom Service Dogs board of directors.

Currently, there are more than 80 veterans on the waiting list to receive a service dog.

Because the Department of Veterans Affairs does not provide funding for service dogs for wounded warriors, organizations like Freedom Service Dogs rely entirely on donations to rescue and train service dogs.

Visit the Freedom Service Dogs website anytime throughout the year to donate.



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