Justice Speaks advocates for disabled people with service dogs, protecting their right to an assistance animal in all public spaces and educating the broader community about this fundamental—and life changing—civil liberty. 

Cathy Burds founded Justice Speaks because eight years ago, a service dog transformed her life.

As a survivor of childhood trauma living with PTSD and a hearing disability, she felt isolated and separated from the rest of the world—it wasn’t built for people like her. That is, until Justice came into her life.

With Justice, a Bernese Mountain Dog she trained as a service animal, Cathy had the confidence and ability to live more independently, participate in new activities and events and expand her world. But it hasn’t been easy.

Many people and businesses were unaccommodating or tried to deny Cathy the right to have a service animal with her at all. She faced everything from total ignorance of what a service animal is to blatant discrimination. Cathy knew something needed to be done to help change public understanding and perception, so that people with disabilities could move freely in their communities with their life-changing service animals by their side.

In 2015, Cathy started the nonprofit Justice Speaks, and in 2020 the program expanded to focus on education. Through education, advocacy and resource connection, Cathy and her team are building a path towards a better world for disabled individuals and their service animals. Because when people like Cathy are able to participate, everyone wins. 

Meet the Team

Cathy Burds


With a passion for disability rights for the individual and their service dog, I want to help enhance your life experiences by advocating for those who cannot do it for themselves.

Growing up with dogs, I’ve always known the value they bring and how they can take away the anxiety we often feel and make us whole again.  There is nothing like a kiss on the cheek, head on the lap, or snuggle to make you forget the world around you and feel a sense of peace and calm.

Having a hearing disability along with PTSD, it was suggested I get a service dog to help me be a “normal” member of society. At the time, I had small children and the cost to get a service dog seemed so far out of reach.  Later, I learned I could obtain and train my own dog for a lot less and so the journey began 6 years ago with Justice.

Justice has brought so much to my life. She is an extension of my own body with her ability to make up for my disabilities. She has given me the gift of freedom, freedom to go out into the world, to places where I once wasn’t sure I belonged, to environments where I hesitant because of the “what if” questions, she has made me feel whole and normal. Because of her and what she has done in my life, I want others to be able to experience the lifesaving tools and the sense of normalcy a service dog can bring to their lives. 

However, with all the good Justice has brought me, her presence in the community has not always been well received.  Its because of this I founded Justice Speaks. Our communities need to aware of and educated in how to respond to and react around service dogs. Together we can bridge the gaps in knowledge between the individual and their communities, shaping public perception and achieving equal rights for everyone.



Dogs have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My first dog Duchess was always by my side she started my love and passion for dogs by being the best, best friend any boy could ever ask for.   Over the years I’ve owned several different breeds but in 2009, a 16-week-old Bernese Mountain Dog “Zoe” captured my heart and started me on my current path. 

I served in the Army (Infantry reclassed to Medic) for 8 years with 2 deployments (Afghanistan and Iraq) when I was stationed at Fort Carson.  One step off the airplane and I knew I had found home. The mountains called to me, that and the fact I could leave a bag of chips open and they didn’t go stale within the hour.  In 2009, I met my wife and together we started the adventure of AKC purebred dogs. Having “Berners” has changed my life, together we have traveled across the United States and formed a “family” with our colleagues in the sport.  Not to mention, training two Versatility Dogs so far, and achieving Conformation, Obedience, Rally, Drafting, Farm Dog, Trick Dog and Canine Good Citizen titles.  Maybe soon we’ll have Bernese Mountain Dog Dock Divers too?

Over the years, I learned a variety of different techniques, tips, and tricks for training dogs. Testing each of them through trial and error has helped form my own style of training dogs and their owners. I thoroughly enjoy being able to help others bridge the gap between themselves and their dogs to build a better relationship, improve dynamics, and be successful in their endeavors for performance.

I truly believe because of my dogs my life is so much richer and fuller than it would have been without them. I have seen firsthand how a dog can help people and save lives, which is why I’m thrilled to be a part of Justice Speaks!

AKC approval for certified CGC and Trick Dog evaluator.


Justice Speaks envisions a world where people with service dogs can live without discrimination or barriers to their wellbeing.


  • Inclusiveness: We are respectful by embracing intersectionality of all individuals with their unique backgrounds.

  • Learning: We foster an environment of continuous learning with a growth mindset.

  • Guidance: We have strength in the service of others and believe whole-heartedly in human rights.

  • Compassion: We believe in non-judgment so that we can appreciate others’ perspectives when they are different from your own.

  • Integrity: We do what is right guided by honesty, accountability and sincerity.

We at Justice Speaks promise to provide the foundation of learning opportunities for citizens to proactively mitigate discrimination towards people with service dogs and to provide connections to resources that support people with service dogs.

At Justice Speaks, our ultimate goal for each learning opportunity is to build citizen disability rights advocates at all ages, levels of education and beyond with expansion into developing workplace business training. Ideally, the Justice Speaks service animal curriculum will become a required course of social emotional learning with the Colorado Department of Education and/or Employee Training. Our belief is that through education, awareness of better practices regarding service animals will follow.

Our organization brings together people from a wide range of cultural backgrounds – all with different skills, experiences and viewpoints. Diversity embodies all the differences that make us unique individuals. Justice Speaks is committed to the implementation and promotion of equal opportunities and to ensuring an absence of direct discrimination, indirect discrimination or harassment on grounds of race, color, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, age, religion or belief. Underlying our policy is our intention that every individual should be accorded equal dignity and respect and be judged on merit and ability alone, free from judgements or treatment based on prejudice or assumptions of collective characteristics. To this end, our policy provides a framework for the internal resolution of complaints and the promotion of equal opportunities and diversity in every aspect of our work. We promote an inclusive work environment, guided by mutual respect, openness, honesty and the spirit of trust and cooperation, in order to attain the highest possible productivity, creativity and efficiency. It enables us to deliver inclusively innovative services that make our program successful. We believe that everyone at Justice Speaks can contribute to our joint success. Justice Speaks is committed to building a diverse, equitable and truly inclusive curriculum.

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Justice Speaks has carefully crafted and patented a Pre-K through 12th Grade curriculum with easy to follow directions for presenters, educators and students. This curriculum, titled “Your Guide for Forming and Informing Citizen Advocates for Service Animals,” is designed to create and inform the students who will be our future citizen advocates. The lesson plans outline the role of the teacher and provides engaging activities that build on and reinforce what came before. Our goal is to expose children to alternate lifestyles and special needs to help them respond with compassion and understanding when they encounter service dogs in the real world.

The future of Justice Speaks is ambitious and heading full steam ahead. Based on academic research and the advice of the Colorado Department of Education the following curricula are scheduled to be created and launched in the next few years:  

  • Elementary grade school levels 1st through 4th grades
  • Middle School levels 5th through 8th grades
  • High School levels 9th-12th grades
  • Post-Secondary 
  • Employee Training for Businesses 

Nondiscrimination Policy

Revised September 2023

Positive Impact 2 DBA Justice Speaks does not discriminate against any person or organization based on age, race, sex, color, creed, religion, national origin, native language, sexual orientation, transgender status, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, ancestry, marital status, gender, veteran status, military status, political service, affiliation, or disability.