Community rallies together to save service dog nonprofit
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A beloved Tucson service dog nonprofit is in jeopardy.
The nonprofit, Rainbow Service Dogs has served hundreds of people in our community and now they may lose their home base.
The founder is currently renting the home that the nonprofit is run out of. A month ago, her landlord told her they were going to sell the home. She and the Rainbow Service Dogs clients now only have about five months to either come up with enough money to buy the home or find somewhere else where they can live and train.
“Rainbow Service Dogs is a family, it’s a community. I’ve been through a lot of stuff and this is my second home,” client and veteran, Erika Chiazzese says.
A safe space for training service dogs. Clients of Rainbow Service Dogs say it’s A community and not just a program.
Founder, Kelley Fecteau says, ”I wanted a program that didn’t focus on, you’re just coming to training and you’re out the door. I wanted one that made people feel like they were part of something.”
Kelley has helped hundreds in the Tucson community from veterans to children with autism. She’s made her home a safe haven for clients of Rainbow Service Dogs.
”If it wasn’t for this place we wouldn’t be able to be training our dogs and have the advantages that we do,” Patricia Casey, who’s son trained his service dog with Rainbow Service Dogs, says.
Seven-year-old Andrew Barbary is Kelley’s neighbor. He says, “They’re really good with dogs and we’re trying to get my dog nice, so we’re kind of thinking about putting him in the program.”
Kelley not only helps train the dogs at a low cost, she also helps her clients find service dogs, helps with vet fees, and has even helped veterans receive grants.
Veteran, Don Lee says, ”I’m just amazed at how much she does for the community. I never expected it.”
“She’ll go the extra mile for anyone in the program,” veteran, Jamie Macklin says.
But now Rainbow Service Dogs is at risk of losing where it operates out of.
I spoke with the owner of the home Kelley has been using for the non-profit and he said he was selling the home because of the intense housing market. Kelley says she has put thousands of dollars into repairs on the home because she eventually planned to buy it, but can’t afford it right now. She has until the end of her lease in October.
Kelley says, “Trying to find something is just insane. If we can’t buy this place, I’m hoping we can raise enough to buy something else that’s equivalent, but the thing of it is, this is my community.”
One of her clients has set up a go-fund-me to help raise money for them to buy this home or another home. They have a goal of $400,000 and any additional money will be placed into the Rainbow Service Dogs scholarship programs.
You can find the fundraiser here.
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