Nonprofit group to move headquarters, training facility to Sedalia area
Retrieving Freedom Inc., a nonprofit group that trains service dogs, is planning to move its corporate headquarters and main training facility to an area north of Sedalia. According to Executive Director Mike Lederle, the dogs — golden retrievers and labrador retrievers — are trained to work with veterans, with children, and with Type I diabetes patients.
“We currently have facilities in Mississippi and Iowa,” Lederle said. “It was recently decided that we wanted to move our corporate headquarters and main training facility to a more central location in the United States. You can’t get much more central than Central Missouri.”
According to organizational literature, RTI is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization striving to produce the highest quality service dogs, especially for veterans. Their goal is to combine task training for specific disabilities with the non-judgmental ability of a dog to allow veteran recipients to gain a new degree of independence.
“If anyone is a veteran with a service-connected disability, Retrieving Freedom would like to talk with them to discuss how a service dog might be incorporated into their treatment plan,” Lederle said.
RTI is in the early stages of a campaign to raise awareness of its mission, to gain community involvement in the area, to find volunteers to assist with the campaign, and to raise donations for the move.
Lederle said it normally takes 24 months to train a service dog to the quality standards demanded by RTI for its recipients.
“We use, primarily, labradors and golden retrievers because they are very adaptable to different environments and to all kinds of people,” he said. The organization has placed nearly 100 dogs into service thus far.
Susan Jaster, a farm outreach worker for Lincoln University, was with Lederle when he visited Concordia. Jaster works with a group called “Agrability” — a joint effort between the University of Missouri Extension and Lincoln University that focuses on farmers with disabilities.
“I was there to check out the RTI program to try and ascertain whether or not there might be a way to integrate what they are doing into our services for disabled farmers,” she said. “We have a lot of farmers with disabilities who are veterans, and some who have diabetes. I think what we do will fit into their program very well, depending upon the application process. We might not be able to acquire services just for farmers, but of the applicants fit into areas already served by RTI, it might work out well.”
Lederle said the organization is moving as quickly as possible to get the facility built and to start training service dogs in central Missouri.
“We hope to break ground by 2019,” Lederle said. “The 13,000 square foot facility will be located east of U.S. Highway 65 and north of Sedalia, off Highway HH. We are still in the development stages of the building process. We’d like to get started before the end of the year, but it might be up into 2019 before we are into construction.”
For more information, or to get involved in the campaign, visit www.retrievingfreedom.org.