Patriot PAWS

By on May 20, 2022 in Giving

Yardi is committed to supporting the community in every city where our offices are housed. Each year, the company distributes philanthropic aid to organizations selected by its employees.

In 2021, Yardi offices supported more than 350 nonprofits worldwide. For the remainder of the year, we will be bringing you the stories of those organizations and insight into how they aid their communities.

Today, we are talking with Patriot PAWS, a Rockwall, Texas organization that since 2006 has provided fully trained service dogs of the highest quality to disabled American veterans at no cost to the veteran.

Patriot PAWS was founded in 2006 by Lori Stevens, who observed several veterans attempting to train their own dogs to become service dogs. As a dog trainer with 30 years of experience, Stevens knew she could help. What started out as just Stevens and four volunteers has become a national organization with more than 380 service dog placements in 39 states and ongoing growth each year.

Readying a service dog is a major undertaking.  Each Patriot PAWS service dog costs $35,000 to train and provide care for.

“All funds will go towards continuing the mission of providing these life-saving dogs to our veterans in need,” said Marissa Pittman and Sarah Mathers, development coordinators for the organization.

“Yardi’s generous support has helped us bring several dogs into training and place dogs not only as service dogs, but as in-home working dogs for our veterans as well. We truly could not do this without the support by amazing companies like Yardi,” Pittman and Mathers said.

Freedom and Gus’ story

Freedom, a U.S. Army Combat Medic, endured physical, mental, and emotional injuries because of her military service. While all these injuries impacted her life, she struggled most with debilitating Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS).

Freedom and Gus

“Freedom went through a time in her life where she would not leave the house without her mother or husband accompanying her. The outside world was simply too much to face on her own. One evening, Freedom overheard her mother crying on the phone to one of her friends and sharing how she was terrified her daughter would fall victim to veteran suicide,” shared Pittman and Mathers.

According to the 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, in 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available), on average 17 U.S. military veterans committed suicide each day.

“While Freedom was not suicidal, she knew she needed help to begin the healing process of her injuries – both visible and invisible.  Little did she know that a four-legged furry angel would aid her in healing more than she could have ever imagined,” Pittman and Mathers continued.

Freedom had an instant connection with a Patriot PAWS Labrador Retriever named Gus. Before taking their service dogs home with them, veterans undergo a two-week training with the dogs onsite at the Patriot PAWS campus in Rockwall. The process ensures that both veteran and service dog are ready for their future work together and will have a successful partnership.

“It become evident Freedom and Gus would make an incredible team. Shortly after Freedom and Gus were paired, the team began to accomplish incredible things together,” Pittman and Mathers said.

Gus gave Freedom the courage to attend in-person college classes, and she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Biology and Pre-Med degree. Her career goal is to become a doctor. After undergraduate work, Freedom attended the Imperial College of London in England, where Gus again attended classes and even donned his own personal protective lab equipment to enter the research lab.

“I’m beyond grateful to Patriot PAWS and to Gus. I did not know how much better life could be. He is showing me the way,” Freedom said.

Learn more about Patriot PAWS at, and find future non-profit profiles at