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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Blind & Visually Impaired Centers, Disabilities, Dogs, Eye Diseases, Blindness & Vision Impairments, Health, Human Services, Military & Veterans Organizations, Veterans

Mission: Southeastern Guide Dogs transforms lives by creating and nurturing extraordinary partnerships between people and dogs. Our organization operates the most advanced training facilities of any service dog organization in the world. create and train working dogs—including guide dogs, service dogs, and skilled companion dogs—and provide life-changing services for people with vision loss, veterans with disabilities, and children with significant challenges such as vision loss or the loss of a parent in the military. All of Southeastern Guide Dogs’ services—which include selective breeding and expert dog training and conditioning; comprehensive on-campus student instruction; and lifetime alumni support—are provided at no cost to the recipients. We rely 100 percent on private donations and receive no government funding.

Target demographics: People with visual impairments, veterans with disabilities, and children with significant challenges such as vision loss or loss of a parent in the military.

Direct beneficiaries per year: In Fiscal Year 2018, we supported 548 active teams who gave us a 99.8% student satisfaction rating. We placed 49 guide dogs with visually impaired students and 51 dogs into careers benefitting veterans. We also placed 64 dogs into other careers.

Geographic areas served: The continental U.S.

Programs: Southeastern Guide Dogs transforms lives by creating and nurturing extraordinary partnerships between people and dogs. Our organization employs some of the most talented and innovative scientists and trainers in the working-dog industry and operates the most advanced training facilities of any service dog organization in the world. Our experts train guide dogs, service dogs, and skilled companion dogs for people with visual impairments, veterans with disabilities, and children with significant challenges such as vision loss or loss of a parent in the military. All of Southeastern Guide Dogs’ services—which include selective breeding and expert dog training and conditioning; comprehensive on-campus student instruction; and lifetime alumni support—are provided at no cost to the recipients. We rely 100 percent on private donations and receive no government funding. Southeastern Guide Dogs has the distinction of being dually accredited by the two premier, global accreditation bodies: the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International. Learn more at www.GuideDogs.org.

Community Stories

277 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Terry G.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I cannot say enough great things about SEGD. I am a disabled veteran with PTSD and physical issues. The service dog trainers at SEGD picked a beautiful Goldador named Sasha as my new battle buddy, I could not be happier and she starting changing my life from the day I met her 20 days ago. The service dog trainers are amazing, extremely knowledgeable, caring, loving and become your newest best friends by the time the class is over. The facilities are way modern, clean and beyond ecxpectations. The Chefs are great, friendly and the food is amazing. The entire staff and volunteers are great. This is a fantastic organization that cares about veterans and want to help. I have been so blessed to have them in my life and providing me with the best new battle buddy in the world.

Thank you for everything,

Terry Greenfeder


Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently started working at Southeastern Guide Dogs in the puppy kindergarten area and have been so impressed with this organization. What a wonderful group of staff members and volunteers; such a positive environment. Everyday is enjoyable, I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to volunteer in an awesome setting, raising dogs to become future heroes.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Southeastern Guide Dogs is truly a world class state of the art training facility for both Guide dogs and Service dogs. The campus is well maintained. My first impression upon arriving there put me in awe. The campus buildings are recently built and you feel as though you are on a college campus for humans. This place breeds their own service dogs and has a research lab on site that helps detect defects in canine dna so that healthy Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers can be born. Students get to stay in their state of art dorm rooms which is equipped with its on mini fridge, Amazon
Alexa, full bathroom, flat screen TV, closet and Central Air. Each room has its own patio with and an astroturf area for your service dog to use to go to the bathroom. School provides students with 3 free meals a day from its onsite full industrial kitchen that staffs cooks with great culinary talent. This organization is non profit, ADI accredited school. They rely solely on private donations and do not take any government funds. If your looking for a service animal school that is top notch, Southeastern Guide Dogs is definitely it!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at Southeastern Guide Dogs for three years now serving in various areas of the campus including being on the Volunteer Advisory Committee. While I was working, I served on a number of non-profit boards none of which ran their organizations like this one. SEGD is second to none in how they support, communicate, educate and show genuine appreciation to their volunteers. The staff never makes you feel like you are getting in their way. Rather, they recognize how much value we contribute to the organization not to mention how much money we save them in payroll and benefits. All of us support each other never taking our eye off the overall mission of training world-class dogs that support the vision impaired and our veterans with disabilities.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Excellent organization to volunteer for in many diverse roles that provide assistance for the puppies and young adult dogs along with the students. A great opportunity for expanding your education on service and guide dog training and hands on experience that helps so many. First rate campus and staff and highly recommend to volunteers searching for a good fit.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great organization pursuing a great mission. The organization offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, all supported by an exceptional staff. Volunteers are truly appreciated, and volunteers feel they contributed to the successful match between Guide/Service dog and its handler. So lucky to live close by so I can volunteer on campus.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Top notch organization providing independence for those who are visually impaired and those in the military (active and retired). The volunteers are offered various volunteer opportunities throughout the campus, allowing us to be an integral part of their mission. Training is also provided to the volunteers on a regular basis. Volunteers are greatly appreciated and paid in lots of puppy love. I feel strongly that my volunteering responsibilities contribute to the making of a SEGD superhero!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Last month I was lucky enough to graduate from Southeastern Guide Dogs with my new guide. This is a top notch facility. There truly are not enough words to explain the magnitude of the gift this school has given me. I ask you, what price can you put on your independence? Southeastern provides all their services absolutely free of charge. The facility itself is gorgeous. The staff is the kindest you will find anywhere. They put the welfare of their dogs and their students before anything else. The three weeks I spent at the school changed my life. My new guide has given me the confidence to walk out my front door unafraid for the first time in 10 years. If you are someone in need of a guide dog, do not hesitate to apply to this school. If you are a donor, puppy raiser or sponsor, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your gift has changed my life.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband Terry and I have been involved in many areas of SEGD -we are so happy we are. Friendships have been formed and are ever lasting. The pups that we have had pass thru our lives have been a blessing. We are helping to change the lives of deserving individuals. Makes my heart so happy to be able to do this. Most recently we raised a pup who is IFT right now and at the present we are finishing another pup who will go in for formal training at the end of October. We also have a retired breeder at home who we love to follow along on his legacy. SEGD changes lives one pup at a time.

cathyglen

Volunteer

Rating: 5

An amazing organization! I've volunteered at many non-profits throughout my life, and Southeastern Guide Dogs is truly inspiring. They not only educate and train their guide dogs and service dogs and students but they also educate and train their volunteers! The staff works diligently to find the perfect fit for every volunteer.

Bravos to the staff!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wonderful ! This is an organization that is always striving to educate their employees and volunteers with the latest innovations. Their goal is to change someone's life by providing a trained dog to give more independence.... whether a guide dog or a veteran service dog for PTSD.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came to know Southeastern Guide Dogs from living nearby at Tree Lakes RV and resort in Palmetto Florida. Our senior park is a big supporter. I have attended many of the dog walks in Bradenton and last year the park earned the right to name a puppy. I am now 82 years old and needed to find something to keep me occupied. A friend suggested Southeastern Guide Dogs and said they might need volunteers. Well I found out they did, i applied, was accepted and have been working about a month. I was blown away at how large they have grown and how how many volunteers there are along with professional workers. I am thrilled to be a part of the team and be able to give to so many in need. The organization is amazing and I am learning how much it takes to bring the puppy to being a Super Guide Dog. The staff have been great and helped me to become comfortable in my duties. It has given me value to my life and amazing life to those we have helped. I am looking forward to my continued journey.

Deborah Pfaelzer I.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

They say that Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth but I respectfully disagree and think that Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc. is the happiest place in the Universe! I've been a volunteer for a little over 5 years and love every minute of my time spent on campus! Everyone is amazing and the dogs never cease to bring a smile to my face. This place truly changes lives and I am grateful to be able to help make a difference in people's lives.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc. truly changes people's lives! I have been volunteering there for over 3 years and witness the gift we give to the blind and PTSD sufferers on a weekly basis! It makes my heart sing to be a part of such a wonderful organization!

Laura Steven S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering with SEGD for the last year and a half and they are truly an amazing organization. I've worked with them as a puppy raiser, breeder hoast and campus volunteer. Everyone is so incredible to work with! Always so knowledgable and very supportive. Truly blessed to have them in our local area!

Jan A.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a SEGD volunteer and puppy sitter I whole heartedly endorse Southeastern Guide Dogs and their mission to place expertly trained dogs in the lives of people who need the help a dog has to offer. They really do change people’s lives.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is just a wonderful, positive place! Happy dogs - happy people! As a volunteer I feel grateful to be part of this organization. It is very well-run by people who really care. There is a genuine passion here!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I volunteer at Southeastern Guide Dogs on their campus. I am so proud to be part of their mission. Every puppy and dog are so well taken care of and every staff member/trainer and volunteer take their roles seriously. The dogs are loved dearly and placed with their “forever person” with the utmost care.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Outstanding program for the recipients and everyone involved in making it happen. The facility is top notch, volunteer program is extremely well run, the facilities are clean, and the dog training is thoughtful consistant and geared towards the dogs comfort and happiness. I can't say enough about South Eastern Guide Dogs. You must see it for yourself. Once you go you will want to be involved.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at Southeastern Guide Dogs for over five wonderful years. One morning a week I work at Canine University with three wonderful ladies and we are proud to be known as the "super-duper cleaning quartet"! I also help with set-up, clean-up and serving at both the Puppy Raiser Brunch, where visually impaired students get to meet the people who raised their new canine companion and the Veterans' dinner, where veterans with PTSD meet the people that raised their service dog. It is very heartwarming and rewarding to witness the bond that has already formed between the students and their new partners and to see the love still shared between the dogs and their puppy raisers. I also work with my husband (Joe Ligi) weeding and keeping all the gardens in good order! All my hard work is rewarded when I go to the Puppy Academy and to bathe puppies! I love every minute of those mornings! I love seeing the puppies as they grow and then go to their puppy raiser for a year, but the best reward is when I see them come back a year later as grown dogs in Canine University. The love and devotion shown to the puppies and dogs by the employees and volunteers is something that has to be witnessed firsthand. There are always lots of smiles from happy employees and volunteers and joyous tail wagging from the puppies and dogs at Southeastern Guide Dogs. I think it is a testament to the reputation, operation and successes of SEGD's that with their continual growth and expansion, many of the new and planned buildings are fully funded by generous contributions BEFORE a footing is poured! It is truly a non-profit that deserves recognition for their continued contributions to so many facets of society.

Sandra W.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am close to retiring and was looking for volunteer work to fill my time. I'd seen Southeast Guide Dog volunteers at stores from time to time and chatted with them one day, then decided to take a closer look. I toured the facility (amazing - like a college campus!), attended several meetings to get a good feel for what was required, and it was clear how dedicated all the staff and volunteers were. I signed up to be a Puppy Raiser, and am absolutely thrilled with my decision. It's a lot of work and love, but so worth it, and the organization has incredible support for Puppy Raisers!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer and board member of several nonprofits over the years, I have been most impressed with Southeastern Guide Dogs. I currently volunteer with SEGD in many capacities, both on campus and as a puppy raiser. Their commitment to their mission, staff, volunteers, dogs and students is exceptional.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined for the opportunity to raise a puppy, and stay to continue the mission and for the friends I have made along the way. I like that the departments continue to do research and advance how we can raise service dogs better or quicker. I’m also amazed at the countless volunteers! As a puppy raiser, I meet people all the time who say how much they love Southeastern, or ask how they can be involved. I contribute with time and financials and believe both are well spent. The Instagram feeds @seguidedogs and @guidedogtrainers are just one window into the day to day activities. The feel Good Friday you Tube videos also are great representations of how this not for profit works. And the best part...the dogs are free to those who need them and come with support while they are in service!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first was introduced to Southeastern in mid-1987 & was very impressed. The school was very young then with huge potential. Having worn eyeglasses since childhood and with a intense love for dogs, I recognized a common ground & immediately wanted to become involved. But for work-related reasons, that involvement didn't come for several years.

Fast forward to October 2019 - my 11th year volunteering for Southeastern. I began my journey as a puppy raiser. What a rewarding experience! Since then, I've had the opportunity to volunteer in several other areas - assisting in the early education of our puppies, working at the front desk in our Student Center, conducting tours on our 33-acre campus, helping out with public events and fundraising for the annual Walkathon and sponsoring/naming five puppies. I adopted my beautiful black Lab, Lindy, from Southeastern and she & I became part of the Ambassador program. As an Ambassador team we represented Southeastern both on and off campus, participating in events, speaking engagements and visiting schools, nursing homes and hospitals.

Without question, Southeastern Guide Dogs is in a nonprofit class by itself...World Class! From the dedicated, forward-thinking Board of Directors, the creative , hard-working staff and the hundreds of selfless volunteers across several states, this organization is simply top notch. And from my point of view...the appreciation for what I contribute to the overall success of Southeastern is demonstrated constantly from the top down. An admirable attribute not commonly found in many organizations today.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I first came to the SEGD campus in 1984. We were visiting family and we came to see and interact with the puppies. At that time the “campus” consisted of one building and some walking paths. The role of the visitor was to walk and groom a puppy or older dog to help with socializing, a very important part of their training.
In 200 we moved to the Tampa area from Iowa and began a new chapter in our journey. Last fall we saw a news story about SEGD and decided to run down and check it out as we had not been there since our first visit in 1984. Needless to say, we were blown away by the transformation from a single to building to a true campus. We were so impressed and inspired that we immediately made a donation while we were there.
Because of our donation we were contacted by the organization and invited to a private tour of the entire facility. We were absolutely in awe of everything they have accomplished and the wonderful work that is done to transform people lives. All by donation, no government funding. We’ve been invited to a few recipient graduations and an event showcasing the work and support that is given to our precious war veterans and their families.
When I retired earlier this year I already knew I wanted to give even more and signed up to become a volunteer. I was worried it would take a while to get in,but, to my surprise I was able to start right away. Best decision I ever made. The entire staff, from HR to canine techs have been wonderful to work with and are so grateful for all the help they receive from the volunteers.
I love this opportunity to spread the work about this amazing notforprofit organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering on the Southeastern Guide Dog Campus for five years and have worked in a myriad of different roles all over the campus. I have observed this campus go through an absolutely remarkable transformation physically, while simultaneously maintaining a high level of of canine care and training for our dogs. The new facilities allowed the team at SEGD take everything they do to a new level. Even to the point of other facilities to come to our campus and observe. That in itself is a huge compliment.

Our CEO Titus Herman set out a vision and a plan to be the best facility of it's kind in the world. It is a vision shared by all of the Volunteers and Employees. This amazing vision and leadership has all been achieved through donations from some very caring, generous people, and corporations. This out pouring of generosity has allowed us to update thirty year old buildings that were bursting at the seams. To give us a state of the art facility. In my humble opinion even with all of the help, it could not have be achieved without fiscal responsibility. The entire management team and Board members shepherd the dollars they are given with upmost fiscal responsibility.

We expanded our service dog training to include our outstanding military veterans who now suffer PTSD. I volunteer in this program and have personally seen the end result of everyones efforts on the campus. At the end of one training exercise a young man walked up to me shook my hand and said, " I wanted to personally thank you. " I thanked him for his service and sacrifice. He said, "you don't seem to understand, two weeks ago I never thought I would see the inside a mall again in my life now I am standing here with you in front of Macy's."

There are a lot of charity's one can give money to. As you contemplate this decision I encourage you to look at the videos on our website. Visit our campus for a personal tour we are open and transparent and see what we do.

We transform lives and give people an enhanced and a new beginning in life. I could not be any happier knowing that I am just one cog in a wheel that helps Southeaster Guide Dogs accomplish their goals and aspirations.

Alan Skulsky
Campus Volunteer

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer puppy raiser with Southeastern Guide Dogs for 10+ years (I am currently raising my 10th puppy). I was looking for a way to fill some free time but wanted it to be purposeful. I saw another puppy raiser out and about with their puppy wearing Southeastern Guide Dog's dintinctive blue coat and I knew I had my answer. The school provides us puppy raisers with all the help and support we need to turn in happy, well socialized puppies who are ready to move on to the next phase of their training. It is a wonderful feeling to know that I am helping change someone's life and having fun in the process! I highly recommend Southeastern Guide Dogs to anyone looking for a place to donate time, resources or money!

Donna N.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

From the moment I stumbled across their website and started my journey as a volunteer, I have had nothing but magical experiences. Each person I meet on campus, each future superhero I work with, every department I interact with, come together seamlessly in this shared vision and focused effort. Everything they do “pays it forward”, in a never ending miracle. And the work I do in the Puppy Nursery is a most precious labor of love and always the highlight of my week!

Joel F.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a Disabled Veteran, and Volunteer at Southeastern Guide Dogs. I have worked as a photographer, Training Center helper, and occasionally bring a dog home for the weekend. I have seen the employees working with the dogs, and the new Handlers. They could not be better, at what they do for the blind and those with PTSD. The stories, I have heard, from the graduate handlers are amazing, and life changing. I give Southeastern Guide Dogs 5 Gold Stars-plus!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A chance drive past a highway billboard 3 years ago when I moved to Florida, has given me the most meaningful volunteer experience I could ever imagine, as well as a sense of belonging to a most exceptional family of skilled professionals who are passionate about the organization's mission, and who do more and more each day to enhance the quality of experience for every person affiliated with them. They exceed all the standards of excellence they strive for, and bring hope, independence and confidence to deserving individuals, day after day. They deserve continuing support from the entire community.

Tammy Farrow A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After taking a tour of Southeastern's Palmetto Campus in 2015, I knew I had to become a part of this amazing organization. It has been the best experience and I am proud to be a part of Southeastern's family. Their dogs touch the lives of everyone they interact with from volunteers, puppy raisers, students, and people in the community. It changed my life when my husband and I become breeder hosts to Murphy in 2018. Southeastern not only accomplishes it mission but exceeds it every single day.

Ellen V.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

From the moment I arrived at the Southeastern Guide Dog campus, everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. The staff and the trainers were always asking if they could do more.I found the facilities on campus amazing and first class. The trainers at Southeast Guide Dogs were absolutely top notch in the way they were able to assess each student and match the perfect dog to their needs. It was not until I arrived home that I realized how well Southeast Guide Dogs had prepared me and my new best friend,Ella, to navigate the world beyond my own front door.

Scott R.4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Omg what can I say, In the first week of training and I can already see how my dog Bowen will improve my life, he keeps me calm helps me get around, knows when I am hurting and distracts my mind, no Better Program for vets

Client Served

Rating: 5

The staff here were awesome. Everyone was so accommodating and willing to work with us students. My time at the school was outstanding. Staff and trainers answered all of my questions whenever I had them, and the amenities were awesome as well. The beds were comfortable, and the rooms were spacious. Not to mention, our dogs had their own little yards which I thought was quite neat. The food was also delicious. The chef did an outstanding job.

I would definitely come back to this school when I need to get another dog once my retires. I will recommend this school to others, too.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

If you want to get away from the negative and experience the positive come visit Southeastern Guide Dogs. As a new volunteer I am just blown away by all that goes into the making of these wonderful "hero" dogs and all by donation only. The staff, volunteers and trainers all work together with the goal of giving these dogs the very best care, training, affection and love so they can be a life changer for someone in need. I feel very lucky to be a part of it all!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began volunteering with SEGD in November of 2018. It has changed my life. As someone who has worked with and for non profits for many years, I have to say this is the most professional organization I have ever worked with. There is a very large number of volunteers- 350+ - and the communication, the opportunities and the training is like no other. We are routinely recognized for our contribution, no matter how small. We are invited to lectures that are outstanding, not just about the organization itself, but by those who have benefited from it. The staff at every level are extremely dedicated and supportive. I hope that anyone who loves dogs, appreciates the struggles of the sight impaired and the service of our many veterans, with get involved. If you can’t, then donate. This fine organization relies solely on donations from the public and businesses to sustain its core mission. And they are doing that better than any non profit I have ever been involved with or supported. If you can help in any way, I hope you will. Melissa Twomey

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After attending "Making of a Super Hero" last year and learning about the mission of Southeastern Guide Dogs, I was waiting to join this wonderful organization as a volunteer. This is one of the best organizations I have ever worked with or volunteered at. The full time staff is great, is dedicated to the dogs and appreciates the volunteers. They truly care. As a volunteer we are able to help them with caring for the dogs at different stages in their growth and training from birth to graduation. No matter what your contribution, you feel like you are helping the recipient of these amazing dogs to live a better life.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Southeastern Guide Dogs is a very unique and special organization that provides service dogs to the blind as well as Veterans. This is the ONLY not-for-profit that I've ever worked for or with that does not accept any federal, government or grant funding. All the funds received are donations. To my understanding, not one single building on this magnificent campus is built without having the funds in hand prior to start of construction. That's amazing!
As a volunteer I get the privilege of providing help to allow the staff members to do more than they normally would be able to do. The campus is meticulous and the staff always has a smile for anyone even on the toughest of days. (We often hear that the floors are so clean you could eat off of them!) Each and every volunteer gets knows with confidence that their efforts are greatly appreciated. With over 300 volunteers, we take pride in knowing how much money we've saved SEGD so that the funds can be directed toward the recipients.
From driving golf carts, helping in the kitchen, being a Breeder Dog Host to a Puppy Raiser, we each take great pride in the gift of our efforts.
Thank you Southeastern Guide Dogs for letting me be part of that contribution!