Founder and Executive Director
Frances McGowin, MA - Founder and Executive Director of Service Dogs Alabama
Frances lived in New York City and worked with Ralph Lauren in New York from 1978-1982. In 1982, Frances moved to Atlanta to work as a Marketing and Sales Associate with Conde Naste fashion publications.
Frances served as the Director of the Georgia Equestrian Training Alliance prior to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and worked with Olympic Equestrian Teams from all over the world for three years prior to the Centennial Games.
After returning to Alabama in 1997, Frances has worked for 14 years with the Alabama Department of Youth Services, Tutwiler and Kilby prisons, the Alabama Department of Human Resources, and the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education to develop therapeutic and educational programs for at-risk and incarcerated youth, children with special needs, Foster Care children and incarcerated adults.
Frances founded the Dogs On Call Therapy Dog program in 2008 and served as the director of Dogs On Call and K-9s 4 Kids Service Dogs for seven years until Service Dogs Alabama separated from Easter Seals Alabama in 2015 to create its own 501(c)(3). She now serves as Executive Director of Service Dogs Alabama.
She is an avid animal lover and has trained dogs and horses most of her life. Frances is also an artist and writer. She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling.
Why I started Service Dogs Alabama:
I have a special place in my heart for children who live with a disability. I have always thought that they were heroes on a journey.
When I started taking my therapy dog to therapy centers to work with disabled children, I felt like I was witnessing miracles every time I went. The children became animated, motivated and confident and far exceeded their therapeutic goals.
I asked myself, “if therapy dogs can inspire this response from a child in a one hour session, imagine what a 24/7 service dog could do for a disabled child.” And so, K-9s 4 Kids was born.
K-9s 4 Kids has been guided by this philosophy since its inception: the right dog will show up for the right job to help the exact child who needs him. I watch it happen all of the time.
Service Dogs Alabama is here to help you if we can. Service Dogs are not for everyone, not for every child. They require a lot of training and maintenance. They require that your child’s disability be on display for the world to see and question. A Service Dog requires daily and hourly responsibility- daily grooming, weekly baths, daily training.
However, if a Service Dog is right for your child, then it will change everything. You will see new confidence, new independence and happiness beyond your expectations. A Service Dog is not a pet, but “the friend that always has your back.”
It is a new world for a disabled child, one with new and endless possibilities. Getting a Service Dog must be a serious consideration and commitment.
We will be glad to answer any questions you might have about Service Dogs.