PLATINUM2024

DOG TAG BUDDIES

Helping veterans, one rescue at a time!

Shepherd, MT   |  https://dogtagbuddies.org/

Mission

Mission: Dog Tag Buddies is an integrative therapeutic program providing improved daily living and social mobility for veterans living with the invisible wounds of war. Vision: Dog Tag Buddies strives to create a healthier community, improve mental health, and reduce suicide by serving those who served us. Our program serves veterans across the state of Montana by bringing the program to 7 locations, resulting in less distance for the veteran to have to travel to participate.

Ruling year info

2015

Executive Director

DeeDe Baker

Main address

PO Box 250

Shepherd, MT 59079 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

47-3759502

NTEE code info

Animal Training, Behavior (D61)

Single Organization Support (P11)

Unknown (Z99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Dog Tag Buddies is focused on helping veterans live more fulfilling lives through training and building a relationship with their service dog. This helps them find methods to recognize and manage the symptoms of their disabilities, discourages self-isolation, and helps find a renewed sense of purpose. An estimated 11-20% of veterans suffer from PTSD, and 20+ veterans take their lives by suicide each day, unable to cope with the effects of their hidden injuries. Studies have shown that veterans with hidden injuries (PTSD/TBI) who are paired with service dogs lead significantly more productive lives, the need for medication decreases, and their overall quality of life as well as that of their families, employers, and community benefits. The VA agrees with this form of treatment but does not offer financial assistance as a therapeutic in the treatment of hidden injuries. Dog Tag Buddies strives to create a healthier community, improve mental health, and reduce suicide.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Veterans/Service Dogs

The program is focused on helping veterans live more fulfilling lives through training and building a relationship with their service dogs. This helps them find methods to recognize and manage the symptoms of their disabilities, discourages self-isolation, and helps them find a renewed sense of purpose.

We place carefully chosen dogs with the individual veteran and provide service dog training. The training takes approximately 18 to 24 months. The veteran and dog will train together as a team, this helps with the bonding and building of a lifelong relationship.

Montana is a very large state, encompassing more than 147,000 square miles. The population centers are isolated and rural, with an average of seven people per square mile. Montana also has one of the highest per capita veteran populations in the United States; about one in ten residents are veterans. Approximately 80% of those veterans served in a combat zone.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Veterans

We don't believe a veteran should ever have to travel outside of their area to participate in our program. Dog Tag Buddies has expanded to include trainers in the Flathead Valley, Missoula, Bitterroot Valley, the Highline, Helena/Butte/Great Falls, Gallatin Valley, as well as Eastern Montana.

Population(s) Served
Veterans

Travel across the state to provide educational talks to groups to educate about the use of service dogs and emotional support animals to aide veteran on a daily basis.

Also educate groups about the differences between service, esa and therapy dogs

Population(s) Served
Adults

Provide dog trainers and other entities who are unfamiliar with PTSD ongoing training on how to best serve veterans with invisible injuries

Population(s) Served
Adults

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer, and is a suicide prevention training program that teaches people to identify the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to respond. QPR training, also known as gatekeeper training, is designed to teach people without professional mental health backgrounds how to help others who may be in crisis and experiencing suicidal ideation. Dog Tag Buddies Executive Director, DeeDe Baker, is a QPR Gatekeeper trainer and provides this training to any organization, free of charge. Dog Tag Buddies is also an active member of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Yellowstone County, Mayor's Challenge/Governor's Challenge.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans 2019

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of applicants applying for service dogs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Veterans

Related Program

Veterans/Service Dogs

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Not all veterans who begin application process complete initial application. These numbers reflect applications, not necessarily those excepted into the program.

Number of animals rescued

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Veterans

Related Program

Veterans/Service Dogs

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

The number of rescues has decreased as a direct result of a statewide canine brucellosis outbreak, which has led to more breeders donating puppies. Rescues now come from owner surrenders.

Number of hours of training

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Veterans

Related Program

Veterans/Service Dogs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This is the number of hours we devoted to working with our veterans in both individual and in group settings.

Number of veterans who apply to train their current dog as a pet.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Veterans

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

A companion dog is a dog who's purpose is to help the veteran by providing companionship. We began a training program specifically for veterans to bring in their own pet dog to train.

Number of veterans who were training a dog to become their service dog during the year listed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Veterans

Related Program

Veterans/Service Dogs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

These numbers reflect the number of veterans currently participating in training with a dog. These veterans are participating weekly, in group training, as well as continuing to train outside of class

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Deaths by suicide among our veteran population in Montana is almost double the national average. Finding alternative treatment modalities to reduce suicide among our veterans continues to be a driving force for Dog Tag Buddies. There are many treatment options for hidden injuries and the challenges that come along with them. We aim to provide Montana and surrounding area veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), and Military Sexual Trauma (MST) access to an alternate treatment modality through the support of a canine companion or service dog and the journey of training them. Our goal is to help fill the gap by providing services at no cost to eligible veterans.

1. Dog Tag Buddies utilizes a community training model, in which the veteran trains the dog they are matched with, to help reduce self-isolation, create new relationships and connections, provide a renewed sense of purpose, and find new ways to overcome the challenges of their disability.

2. Working with local trainers, Veterans organizations, and the general public to bring awareness to the struggles of veterans with hidden injuries and how dogs can help them in their day-to-day lives.

3. Bringing the program locally to veterans ensures they never experience out-of-pocket expenses associated with other service dog programs. Dog Tag Buddies will NEVER charge a veteran for our services.

4. Utilize social media, online presence, widely distributed publications, and local public events to bring awareness to our program. Networking through other organizations and Montana Nonprofit Association to connect with other like-minded organizations and individuals who commit to helping our organization grow sustainably.

5. Presentations to local groups about Dog Tag Buddies, hidden injuries, companion and service dogs and how a dog can help support veterans in their journey to healing.

6. Networking and building relationships with rescues/shelters to help find dogs that will be good candidates for our program. Also partnering with local and statewide veterans organizations including VFW and American Legion posts.

7. Working with educational institutions to research and develop improvements to services offered to our veterans.

Dog Tag Buddies has a team of highly trained and capable employees, volunteers, and BoD working to drive both the daily operations and short and long-term strategy of the organization. Our Executive Director founded the organization based on her desire to give back to veterans and rescue dogs, and has since become a certified Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Suicide Prevention Instructor and Trauma Informed Care Trainer, as well as completed many dog training courses and certifications as she works towards her bettering herself and leading the organization. Her passion and drive inspire others and she continues to be a driving force of the organizations success.

Our staff, volunteers and BoD understand that what we do truly makes a difference in the lives of those we work with. All staff and trainers complete Trauma Informed Care training, QPR training, and are Psych Armor Certified Veteran Ready.

As a part of our commitment to excellency, the organization is an Assistance Dogs International (ADI) candidate and actively working towards accreditation. ADI accredits not-for-profit programs that place assistance dogs to ensure that they adhere to the highest standards in all aspects of their operations, including ethical treatment and training of dogs, ethical treatment of clients, solid service dog training and follow-up care (https://assistancedogsinternational.org/standards/what-is-accreditation/).

Dog Tag Buddies received its 501(C)(3) status in late 2015 and started its first client in January 2016. Since then, the organization has expanded its service areas from the Billings, Montana region to multiple regions in Montana: Helena, Great Falls, Missoula, Flathead Valley, Havre, and Bozeman. This expansion allows veterans across the State to participate in weekly training programs by reducing barriers.

Dog Tag Buddies has built a strong social media presence with over 5,000 Facebook followers and over 1,300 Instagram followers. We have also worked to foster relationships with local veteran organizations and groups and work closely with them for referrals and networking.

Dog Tag Buddies moved into its own training and office space in Billings, Montana in the summer of 2019 and held its grand opening on September 21st, 2019. Prior to this, the organization was utilizing training space rented by the hour. This space has allowed them to increase their capacity in Billings tenfold, allowing them more flexibility in offering training classes, hosting groups for presentations, and managing day-to-day operations.

Dog Tag Buddies model of training is focused on quality over quantity. The journey of each veteran is unique and important. The program is about more than just providing a service dog. It is designed to transform the lives of veterans by providing a renewed sense of purpose, reducing self-isolation, and helping veterans become active participants in their world in a meaningful way.

Once accepted into our program, veterans are also exposed to a variety of alternative treatment modalities during the two year program. This organization is on the cutting edge of working with veterans diagnosed with the invisible wounds of war by participating in research and development of evidence based modalities.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback

Financials

DOG TAG BUDDIES
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

DOG TAG BUDDIES

Board of directors
as of 05/03/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Steve Bertrand

BMO/ Harris Bank

Term: 2020 - 2025


Board co-chair

Quint Nyman

MFPE Assistant Director

Term: 2021 - 2023

Amanda Lackman

First Interstate Bank Operations

Steve Bertrand

Bank of Montreal

Alexander Roth

Attorney at Law

Quint Nyman

MFPE Deputy Executive Director

Mike McManus

Veterans Navigation Network

David Powell

Volunteer

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/7/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 04/07/2024

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.