Dog owners gather to help families in need

The Enterprise
ONTARIO – At a cost of $30,000 to train a service dog for a child, many families needing the service go without. Dog owners and others gathered June 24 at Lions Park in Ontario to help out a few of those families.
The inaugural Bark In the Park featured a canine obstacle course, grooming techniques and testimonies from those with service dogs along with vendors of pet supplies and services.
“We are a new non-profit supplying service dogs in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and California,” said John Butcher, president of Service Dogs for Children with Disabilities Corp. “There is a high need for service dogs and just not that many available due to the cost of training. Right now, the waiting list for a service dog is large.”
Butcher has numerous success stories of how a dog can play a large difference in a child’s life.
“We have a dog in Middleton with an autistic boy,” Butcher said. “The dog is a 160-pound Pyrenees. When the boy starts to become upset, the natural herding instinct of the dog takes over and he guides the child into a corner and gently leans on him until the episode is over. The child’s outbursts have been greatly reduced since the dog came into his life.”
Butcher said dogs also have the ability to sense physical problems. After a school in Washington raised money for one young student, the dog warns those around the boy’s heart rate is dropping and a fainting spell is imminent.
“I have raised service dogs for the past 30 years and just decided to start up a group to help all those kids that need it,” he said. “People want to help. They just don’t know where to turn.”
Dogs receive a minimum of 120 hours of training and learn 30 to 90 commands before being turned over at no cost to a waiting child. Further training also takes place with the family and others around the child. Dogs are provided to children suffering from autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, brain malformation, stroke, traumatic injury, and other serious conditions.
Studies have shown children with a service dog are treated friendlier in the public.
Have a news tip? Contact reporter John L. Braese at 541-473-3377 or [email protected].