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AAHA staff donates to service dog organization in spirit of holiday season

Dec. 9, 2013, DENVER– For American Animal Hospital Association (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” to the AAHA offices in Lakewood, 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. This year, staff collected $500 to present to Freedom Service Dogs (FSD) as a holiday gift in the name of AAHA CEO Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP.

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.”

AAHA’s donation comes on Colorado Gives Day, a Colorado initiative to increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving. Since 2010, Colorado Gives Day has taken place during a 24-hour period each winter. Thanks to the FirstBank Incentive Fund, no credit card fees will be taken out of donations, ensuring that 100% of all donations will go to nonprofits.

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

Freedom Service Dogs raised over $58,000 on Colorado Gives Day in 2012, which was enough to fund two service dogs for deserving applicants. Their goal this year is to raise $75,000, which will help the organization fund three service dogs. 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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AAHA is the only organization in the United States and Canada that accredits companion animal hospitals based on standards that meet or exceed state or provincial regulations. Established in 1933, the Association is well-known among veterinarians for its leadership in the profession, high standards for veterinary practices and pet health care, and most importantly, its accreditation of companion-animal practices.

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