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Exploring Life & Business with April Haskins of Dogs for Our Brave

Today we’d like to introduce you to April Haskins.

April Haskins

Hi April, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Sure. I am the Executive Director of the nonprofit Dogs for Our Brave. Our mission is to provide professionally trained service dogs at no cost to veterans who have suffered debilitating injuries or illnesses while serving our country. We aim to use rescue dogs at every opportunity, thus saving two lives at once. To fully realize our mission without adding financial burden, we also provide a continuum of free support that covers all food, veterinary care, pharmaceuticals, and additional needs of the dog for the life of the dog. Dogs for Our Brave founders Andy and Marylynn Gladstein use this famous line often: “Always do the right thing,” which is the premise of the mission. In 2013, the Gladsteins had a personal experience that led to the discovery that service dogs being placed with wounded veterans were helping and hindering the lives of some veterans. At the same time, receiving a tool to enhance significantly the veteran’s daily life by providing service skills and emotional support with an ongoing price tag of everything a dog needs for a healthy, happy, and safe life. That is when they said, “We can do it differently.” No veteran should choose between putting food on the table for their family or feeding their service dog.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Like any organization with a mission as ambitious as ours, Dogs for Our Brave has faced its share of challenges along the way. One significant hurdle has been the financial aspect of our mission. Providing professionally trained service dogs at no cost to veterans, along with covering all their needs for the lifetime of the dog, requires a substantial amount of funding. We’ve had to work tirelessly to secure donations and support from various sources. Additionally, as we’ve grown and expanded our operations, we’ve encountered logistical challenges. The need for a larger training center, as we’ve outgrown our current one, is a clear indicator of the growth we’ve experienced. Raising funds and planning for this expansion has been a complex but necessary step in our journey.

As you know, we’re big fans of Dogs for Our Brave. For our readers who might need to become more familiar, what can you tell them about the brand?
Dogs for Our Brave is a unique and compassionate organization dedicated to providing professionally trained service dogs to veterans who have faced debilitating injuries or illnesses while serving our country. What sets us apart is our unwavering commitment to the principle of “always do the right thing,” which forms the foundation of our mission. Our specialty is rescuing dogs from local shelters and preparing them to be exceptional service companions for veterans. We’re proud to operate an extensive 18-month training program that equips these dogs with the skills they need to assist veterans in their day-to-day lives. Beyond training, we cover all the financial needs of the dogs for their entire lifetime, ensuring they’re never a financial burden on the veterans they serve. Our organization stands out for its holistic approach. We not only provide practical service skills but also offer crucial emotional support to veterans. Our dogs become steadfast companions, offering comfort, stability, and unconditional love. We’re most proud of the impact we’ve had on both veterans and shelter dogs. By rescuing dogs and giving them a second chance at life, we can save two lives at once.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
The most important lesson we’ve learned along our journey at Dogs for Our Brave is the profound impact that compassion and community can have. We’ve seen firsthand how the support of our team, donors, volunteers, and partners can create positive change in the lives of veterans and rescue dogs. This experience has reinforced the notion that when individuals come together with a shared mission and a genuine desire to make a difference, incredible things can happen.

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