FALCONER – Three Jamestown area women are hosting a fundraiser to help cover costs associated with their service animals, who they said have changed their lives.
Tammy Rogers, of New Hope Assistance Dogs in Warren, Pa., says the group has trained over 200 service dogs in multiple specialties, including assistance for narcolepsy, hearing issues, and autism.
“We train the service dogs for the people with a disability to help them gain a greater independence in life once they have their dog,” says Rogers.
Once a person applies for a service dog, Rogers says their doctor must agree that it would benefit them. Currently, the wait could be anywhere from six months to a year to take a service dog home. Once their dog is ready, the next part of the training begins.
“They’ll come down to the facility and work on training the dog with us. Depending on how far away they are they may stay for two weeks and train and then take the dog and go home. Or they may stay a week and train then go home for a couple weeks and then come back and do some more training once they’ve gone home and the dog is working on bonding with them,” says Rogers.
Rogers explains that the dog needs to be bonded, and have respect for their owners before they can be fully trained. Additionally, the dogs are trained to meet the owners specific needs, including ways to assist with trauma related issues.
Christian Boltz’s dog Leo helps her control her PTSD, he also likely saved her life.
“I was diagnosed with diabetes so he started mastering alerting me when my blood sugars were off. And then all of a sudden he was rubbing up my left knee, and it started to bother me. And I went to the doctor and the doctor sent me to a bone specialist. And they said, ‘oh you have a tumor, we’re gonna remove it,’” says Boltz.
Since the doctors removed her tumor, Boltz says Leo no longer rubs against that knee.
“He has changed my life significantly,” says Boltz. “He’s there for the psychiatric part of it as well. He does the deep-pressure therapy when he senses that I’m anxious or panicky he’ll jump in my lap and he’ll apply that deep-pressure therapy for me. But ultimately, he has turned into my hero with paws.”
Boltz and two other area service dog owners are hosting a Spaghetti Dinner benefit, along with Wegmans and Puppy Love Pet Grooming, on May 1 at the Falconer Rod and Gun Club to help cover the expensive fees associated with owning the highly trained dogs.
The dogs can cost anywhere from $17,000 to $25,000 dollars for someone to buy, and around $32,000 to fully raise and train. Prices are cut for owners through fundraisers by the facility.
“Having the dog is allowing her to get out and do some of these things that she normally wouldn’t have done,” explains Rogers.
Advanced tickets for the fundraiser are available at newhopedogs.net, which will automatically enter you in the running for a prize at the event.
Applications for a service dog can also be made through the group’s website.