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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

2 Dorthea Samartini Q.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When we first relocated to Florida, we met and befriended a couple on Bradenton Beach. The gentleman friend was visually impaired and had his guide dog Levet. We saw how Bill' s world was made so available to him because of Levet. He encouraged us to look into puppy raising at Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto Florida. Unbeknownst to Bill, we not only looked into raising, but took the required training to be a puppy raiser, and received our first pup, Tangerine. We met them for lunch, arriving with Tangerine....there wasn't a dry eye in the place! Tangerine went on to be placed with a wonderful, visually impaired gentleman from South Carolina. Attending the visitation that day, just before graduation, we were 'proud parents', watching our own Tangerine proudly guide Frank through their course on campus. We, as all puppy raisers, volunteer our service to raise these pups for the first year of their lives, then see them go IFT; In Formal Training, for 6-8 months before being matched with their new partner. As any child leaving the 'nest', we were proud, but we cried, both tears of pride and the knowledge that the pup, would now become someone else's, to guide them, love them, give them the courage the visually impaired person or veteran needs to go out into the world, and be loved in return. Our hearts swelled with pride! Knowing that the individuals receiving these well trained dogs, do so at no cost to the individual receiving the dog; their training, room and board are all provided free of charge, NO one is denied a dog because one cannot afford one. Imagine the feeling when you tell people as you raise these puppies, that someday this pup will help someone in need, and no, there is no cost. It is all done by very generous donations of money and time.
We are now raising our sixth pup, and we fall in love with each and everyone, and yes, we cry with each pup as it returns to campus, but we will continue to raise these wonderful puppies as long as we can, so that individuals, be it visual impairment or PTSD, or any other capacity the pups can learn to do to help people. We have raised six, but some individuals have raised far more, and others fill other important roles at Southeastern Guide Dogs. Remember, it takes a village to raise a SEGD pup!
PS my husband and I believe so much in this organization, we recently sold our home and moved closer to their campus so we could be more involved with them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As volunteers at Southeastern, we are so impressed with the entire organization and what they have achieved and what they continue to do! The dogs that are raised and trained here profoundly affect and change the lives of all they touch. The stories of the people who receive a SEGD dog are so heart warming. The staff are truly miracle workers!
Bob and Patti Hankerson

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the privilege of raising six puppies for Southeastern Guide Dogs. The support offered to puppy raisers was available twenty four hours a day. Caring Area Coordinators and Regional Managers were there to instruct and monitor the puppies as they grew.
Puppy Raising Services kept us aware of when vaccinations and immunizations were needed. We were informed with more than enough notice when our puppy was ready to go In For Training.
While the dogs continued their training with the school’s professional trainers,
we raisers were kept abreast of how they were progressing with a monthly report card.
I have never been involved with anything that had so many caring people involved.
Kay Furey, South Sarasota

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became a volunteer puppy raiser for southeastern guide dogs in 2015. I raised two dogs. My first became an Arson dog and my second became a veteran service dog. What this organization does is amazing. Seeing what these dogs can do is so humbling and life changing. I have made so many friends through this organization who share the same passion as me, which I am truly thankful for. I just started raising my third puppy for SEGD and I also have an internship with them. SEGD will always be apart of my life.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Raising a puppy for Southeastern Guide Dogs is a great volunteer job. You get to work with a puppy and watch it grow. You meet a really nice people and you hear about a lot of other people's dogs along the way. You get to tell the story about Southeastern Guide dogs and the good they do. Your dog might even change the life of a seeing impaired person or a veteran.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My wife and I have become volunteer puppy raisers for S.E.G.D this year and love this organization. Being a part of their mission to provide free guide dogs for people in need has been one of the most fulfilling things one could imagine. The stories of dogs changing and improving lives and the love and care that their trainers and staff provide for their dogs are just a few of the many reasons I’m giving S.E.G.D a five star review.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The work of the folks and puppies at Southeast Guide Dogs has been lauded by the many who have benefited by receiving a puppy for vision and emotional support.
We appreciate that each puppy is raised by volunteer puppy raisers. This is an especially high contact job. 30 commands are learned and exercises plus dietary restrictions applied.
The devotion to the animals and compassion for those who need help are top priority and it shows.

Sandra L.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My volunteer service with Southeastern Guide Dogs began in 2016, when I first relocated to Florida. Since that time, I have learned so much, and have had the pleasure of working with truly exceptional individuals, who are totally committed to the inspirational mission of the organization. I am inspired the minute I arrive on the campus. There is a pervasive spirituality there, and I know many others experience it, too. I have qualified to volunteer in several areas, and in each setting, I see professionals working at the highest standards, bringing their joy an their commitment to their work every day. The Volunteer Department does an exceptional job recognizing the work of the volunteers, and everyone feels truly appreciated. I feel fortunate to have a role in the village it takes to turn these exquisite superheroes into guide dogs, service dogs, and superb companions. I have had the pleasure of meeting lovely people who have become my friends, and with whom I do truly satisfying work on the campus. It is so conspicuously a place where everyone is happy, and everyone is dedicated to the same cause. It is truly a privilege to be there.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering at Southeastern Guide Dogs has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. From the day I first saw the billboard which inspired me to find out more about this wonderful organization, till now, I have loved every minute spending time with the precious dogs, meeting new friends and learning about how this program impacts and enriches so many lives. Collectively, everyone involved has one mission: to help someone live a better life by providing a loving animal who is highly trained and eager to “work”. Whether volunteering with puppies, breeders, or dogs in training, each experience has been so special and meaningful to me. I hope I can continue to volunteer for many years to come!

Kali T.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Southeastern Guide Dogs is the best nonprofit I have ever been a part of. Currently, I am raising my first guide dog through the puppy raiser program. It is the most rewarding experience. I’m surrounded by wonderful people who have become my family through this program. Southeastern is a hero to those who have been helped through the program.

Kristie C.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Every interaction I have had with Southeastern has been a positive and professional one! It all started 3 years ago when I looked for an organization to volunteer for. I attended several of their educational opportunities/experiences, helped with the walk a thon in my area, made puppy collars and ultimately became a puppy raiser! The level of support, positivity and enjoyment I have received is priceless! Every employee and volunteer I have encountered has been so passionate about the organization and the mission! And now with their amazing campus, the people receiving their dog, get the most top notch opportunity! I love Southeasren Guide Dogs for who they are and all they do!

Raymond Orr A.

Client Served

Rating: 5

After returning home from serving in the U.S. Army I was reduced to a shell of a man due to combat related disabilities. I immersed myself in work trying to forget about the past. But after many years, this took its toll on my family since I could not go to a crowed place with them; I could not go to a loud place with them; I could not go shopping with them or out to eat on their birthdays. I then watched a YouTube video about how service dogs help veterans like me get back out in the world and through my exhaustive searching, to include the V.A., I landed on Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc.. Not only did they accept me, they provided me with my companion (Brenna -- a yellow Labrador), a place to reside during the ten days of on-site training, three meals a day, transportation to and from the airport and around town, and regular follow-up visits to my out of state home...they did all of this at no cost to us (me, we), the veterans of this great nation, to those of us that have seen the worst life has to offer, weather in combat, in training, or through the lowest acts of humanity. I am forever grateful to Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc. as I would not have otherwise been able to get what they provided anywhere else (that includes my daughters statement 'I can't wait for dad to come home so I can take him to the mall'). U.S. Army, Staff Sergeant Raymond W. Allbright, combat veteran with disabilities and a service dog!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My family has been a puppy raiser family since 2009. I've always loved how dogs can add to our lives in ways we may never understand. In addition to providing guide dogs for visually impaired, this school changes the lives of Veterans, Gold Star Families and many others. I know that my family has been touched by every single dog that has come thru our doors. Right now we have a career changed goldador. The other day I was watching a video of our Gold Star Families and realized it was not what I should be watching as my son prepares for his 1st deployment for the USMC. Our career changed dog was on the lanai and immediately barked to be let in. She came to my side and rested her head on my lap during the entire video and stayed by me for awhile longer. If any of us are ill, she is right by our side and will not budge.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with southeastern guide dogs is as a volunteer.
I’ve worked in the training kennels, where ,as the name suggests ,the dogs in training are prepared for their careers as guide or service dogs .
There I observed the wonderful relationship of the dogs to their professional trainers.
The caring staff ,and the wonderful volunteers who are always ready to
Say... I can do that. I can help. Days , holidays ,rain or shine.
The Puppy Acadamy is where the dogs are whelped . Always with a staff person quietly welcoming the new pups.
I’m VOLUNTEER in the puppy nursery . And with prior training I follow and socialize
these pups who will be going on the puppy kindergarten .
Where they learn some very important behavior ....like walking on a leash and following simple commands
Then they are off to a Volunteer Puppy Raiser who opens her heart and home
To this special puppy , who will return to our campus to be trained to be, what we call, a super-hero.
And I should mention , this is all accomplished as a non-profit. We never charge
the recipient of these life changing dogs ,as they’ve been called, any
money .
I am so very proud to say I am a volunteer at SEGD.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My wife and I have raised 7 puppies for Southeastern Guide Dogs. Two of the puppies we raised went on to become working guide dogs and are a great help to the people they were matched with. Two other puppies became Ambassador Dogs for Southeastern, and one became a bomb-sniffing police dog. We have had the opportunity to meet and hear several graduates (some who are visually impaired and some who are veterans with PTSD) who told how much these dogs have helped them and how great Southeastern has been to them. Southeastern provides the dogs and their services for free to the recipients! And they don't receive government support. They are a great organization that trains dogs to help the visually impaired and veterans. The thing that has impressed us most is that these dogs are not only become guides & helpers, they become best friends of the people who receive them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became involved with Southeastern Guide Dogs 6 years ago. I was approached by a tenant who had an employee who wanted to raise a future guide dog puppy and bring the puppy to work. After seeing her work with two puppies, how well behaved the dogs were, how she not only taught the puppy basic obedience but also taught that other tenant's and staff here the rules of approaching a guide dog. After I obtained my first personal dog and saw how he changed the dynamics of our family we decided that we would become puppy raisers. I just picked up puppy #6 and my new happy place is being on campus with my new extended SEGD family and I value this experience that is the greatest accomplishment I have achieved and I will be forever changed.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Absolutely one of the best experiences of my life. The trainers and all other staff are truly wonderful people and I am so thankful for everything they do. They gave me back my confidence, independence, and most importantly- gave me my best friend.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Southeastern Guide Dogs is a life saver! They support Veterans in need of Service Dogs 100% free of charge and they do an excellent job. Cruiser is my partner and he helps with my mobility and independence every day and all he expects in return is love.

Amy G.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a puppy raiser, I have learned so much about what it takes to raise and train a guide dog and service animal. Southeastern Guide Dogs donates guide dogs to the blind and service dogs to veterans suffering with PTSD. Before joining this organization, I never realized how much time, money, love, and courage is spent with these rising superheroes. From the whelping centers, to the puppy academy, to the puppy raising communities, to in for training, and last but not least, to the graduates, everything is impeccable and well thought out. These dogs make it easier for veterans and legally blind individuals to continue their life without any barriers.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Southeastern Guide Dogs is more then a nonprofit organization with a mission statement. They are a family full of commitment, devotion, and compassion. Committed to provided the smartest and most caring guide dog that has exceeded my expectations. Devoted to training and transforming my dog and me into a team that defies the odds while walking in the city and hiking on the A.T.. Compassion that reaches out to all people, of all ways of life so that we are no longer defined by our vision, but now go beyond our sight. My time at SGD's was spent with amazing trainers, volunteers, and staff that gave me home away from home!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I received my battle buddy Ranger from SEGD in July of 2017. She has been with me 24/7 since that time. Not a day goes by that I'm not thankful for her. She has given me so much strength and courage to go out and be active again. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

(Picture: Always close by and ready to spring into action)

1 Russell S.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I received my Service Dog, Mustang, from Southeastern Guide Dogs. My dog and the experience with Southeastern Guide Dogs had changed my life. I'm not stuck in the house anymore. I'm out, I'm active, I'm enjoying life, all thanks to Southeastern Guide Dogs!

1 David C.5

Client Served

Rating: 5

the peopleall of them paid and volunteers are uniqque caring individuals who are 110%dedicated to south easterns mission.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Raise a Puppy!! It makes you feel so good and gives the pup a great start!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered at the VA in St. Petersburg FL as a Prisoner of War National Service Officer. Working with POWs I saw a need for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Service Dogs at Southeastern Guide Dogs are amazing. The men that I worked with and all PTSD individuals have their lives back because of these dogs. Southeaster Guide Dogs, the staff members as well as the volunteers are the best in the world. I am so impressed with what they do and the way they give life back to those that are visually impaired and those suffering from PTSD that I volunteer there three days a week. I LOVE this organization and what they stand for, I just can't say enough. This is a WONDERFUL organization and I am so proud of being a small part of helping change peoples lives.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer there and have been for nearly 3 years....I love the organization, people and dogs... why you might ask? Well to see first hand the transformation of these dogs into superheroes is amazing. I get to see all the stages or phases that these dogs , staff and volunteers go thru to get these dogs ready for a person in need. It is truly amazing to be apart of this and watch and be apart of the end result... being able to match the person with the right superhero! This organization has changed my life for ever.... and I could go on and on. ❤️

1 Sean B.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

SEGD is truly the greatest nonprofit on the planet! They gave my life back and continue to amaze me!

1 Lacey C.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Southeastern Guide Dogs provided me with my guide dog in January 2018. Since we left the school and return home it has been such a life-changing experience! Now that I have my guide dog I am able to walk more confidently navigate my surroundings more safely and just have a better quality of life. If anyone were to ask me what God does hall they should go to, I would recommend Southeastern all the way!

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I recently returned home with my first guide dog Beecher. My time at Southeastern was wonderful! The trainers and staff were fantastic. I would recommend this school to anyone considering getting a guide dog!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Veteran with ptsd. My service dog, Flounder, is a genius. This is due to the fantastic overall training since birth. Southeastern guide dogs treated me with great service and respect. They are the real deal and not trying to push animals out the door for money. I am not easily impressed but they are 5 star in all facets. They check on Flounder and myself twice a year to make we are both still functioning as a team properly. Flounder and I take our yearly ADI standard test. This all shows how not only do you receive excellent care when on campus but the follow up speaks volumes. I could go on but I would be remiss if I did not mention the five star chefs and accommodations. It is worth the wait for quality. God Bless Southeastern Guide Dogs. JR

1 Kathy Klemm S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering with Southeastern Guide Dogs for three years. With all the recent controversy about guide/comfort dogs, these dogs are the real deal - starting with a breeding program, expertly trained to assist their "person", and trained to not be intrusive into the general public's environment. A special joy is too see our dogs out in public, doing their jobs and knowing I had a small part in helping that person's life change

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer for Southeastern Guide Dogs for over 10 years. During that time, I've had some life-changing experiences. Raising a puppy for the guide dog program has to be #1 on the list. Perhaps the most rewarding and fulfilling experience ever! To realize that the time and energy one expends to nurture, love and train that little ball of fur into an adult dog that provides hope, independence and freedom to its recipient, is without question, a heartwarming and transformational experience. Now, as a campus tour guide, I have the distinct pleasure of sharing the Southeastern story with our campus visitors. What truly makes my volunteer time at Southeastern such a pleasure, is the fact that every volunteer is genuinely appreciated and acknowledged for their efforts - not just occasionally, but continually. Something that I've not experienced with other organizations for whom I also volunteer. Our student recipients receive a world-class experience and a world-class dog - without cost to them - making Southeastern Guide Dogs a truly magical place!

1 Quinn K.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Southeastern Guide Dogs not only treats you like a king when you are with them with their 5 star accommodations and food service but with their top of the line trainers and best in class dogs. Southeastern Guide Dogs is an execlent stewart of their financial contributions and make the recipients of their grace able to revive their dogs free of charge. As a combat veteran and a father of a large family I would have had no ability to pay for Jannus my now 3 year old yellow lab. Thank you Southeastern Guide dogs for all that you do.

1 Chrissy Trilling T.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Southeastern is the most amazing place! Everyone is so generous and giving of their time! They have given me my independence back!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great organization. They offer their services free of charge to those in need.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband has a guide dog from SEGD. And what a transformation it has made. He is a veteran that lost his vision gradually due to an infection he picked up in Vietnam that affected his Optic nerves. It took him a long time to accept the fact that he needed a Dog but once he did what a difference it made in his life and mine. I saw him regain his independence and pride. He received his dog and training at no cost to us. SEGD doesn’t receive government assistance but rely on the generosity of many people who donate funds and their time. I now am giving back as well by volunteering in the puppy academy which brings me much joy and happiness that I can do my small part. What an awesome organization!