Campus – Palmetto, FL
“I never knew…”
Visitors can easily access our 35-acre campus nestled just off I-275 in Palmetto, Florida. And when they do, we love their reactions:
“I never knew this was here!”
“It’s so peaceful and beautiful!”
Our puppies are born and trained here; our students live and learn here. So we strive to make our campus a welcoming place; clean and carefully groomed so dogs and humans alike can sense a caring atmosphere and a spirit of excellence.
Where freedom and independence grow.
Just inside the front gate lies the intersection of Independence Drive and Freedom Way, bordered by a series of pathways known as the Freedom Walk. On most days, visually impaired students and their new guide dogs can be seen practicing on this outdoor classroom, learning to work and walk together. Students encounter crosswalks and man-made obstacles on our Freedom Walk as they learn to trust their dogs to safely guide them.
About Our Campus
Our Palmetto campus is our center of operations, where puppies and people are transformed all year round. Features of our campus include:
- Our new, state-of-the-art Margaret and Isaac Barpal Veterinary Center, where our veterinary staff provide health care for our puppies and dogs in training.
- Our new “Freshman Dorm,” the Keith G. Hirst Canine Assessment Center, where dogs returning from volunteer puppy raiser homes are assessed for health, temperament, and suitability for guide work.
- Our clean, well-ventilated breeding and puppy kennel, where healthy and happy puppies are born and cared for.
- The spacious and colorful puppy-hugging room, where early socialization helps puppies learn to love humans and feel comfortable with all types of sights, sounds, and stimuli.
- Our puppy playground, where green spaces and play equipment help puppies to get plenty of exercise and fun.
- The training kennel exercise yard, where dogs in training run and play, eventually learning to obey over 40 commands.
- Our student housing and administrative building, where students live with their new dogs for 26 days of training.
- The lovely Freedom Walk garden with its Circle of Friends centerpiece, where landscaped beauty, shade trees, and garden benches welcome all.
- Our contemplative Dog Memorial Garden and Rainbow Bridge, located on the southwest corner of campus. This place of remembrance reminds us of the faithful dogs who served so willingly.
- Our Freedom Courtyard, nestled beneath majestic oaks, which serves as a training ground for students, houses commemorative bricks purchased by our supporters, and boasts an impressive pavilion for gatherings, meetings or just quiet contemplation, and
- Our Veterans Courtyard, which sits adjacent to our unique gift shop full of goodies, is flanked by flags representing each branch – Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force – and one day will be paved entirely with engraved bricks, saluting heroes far and wide.
In addition to our Palmetto campus, our Training Center & Gift Boutique in Sarasota serves as a starting point for students to expand their guided experiences in a busier, metropolitan setting and our Outreach Center & Gift Boutique in downtown St. Petersburg helps us establish a presence within St. Petersburg.
Group tours, puppy hugging, and more.
We welcome visitors to share our public puppy hugging sessions, volunteer to walk a dog, or schedule a private group tour. Come experience our life-changing campus! For more information, call 941.729.5665.