Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Service Dog for Amelia

My name is Lori Freeman. Five-year-old Amelia Freeman, a Circleville resident and my only daughter, has a very special opportunity. We are seeking the support of our family, our friends, and our community, in order to achieve this potentially life-saving goal. You can help.

Amelia has developmental delays in all areas. She cannot speak, and seems to understand only a very few words. While she has not been diagnosed as autistic, she displays many of the characteristics of an autistic child — most significantly, she has no awareness of the danger of traffic, deep water, or the ill intentions of a stranger. She also has a fascination with water and a tendency to be an “escape artist,” and generally does not respond to her father’s or my calls. Combine these traits and you have a recipe for disaster!

4 Paws for Ability, a nonprofit organization located in Xenia, Ohio, has the answer. They have agreed to train and place a service dog, known as an autism assistance dog, in her home. This dog — which may well be a rescued dog that would otherwise be destroyed — will be trained specifically for Amelia. Besides being a loving and loyal companion to her, it will be a working dog. Unfortunately, it cannot be trained to clean up after our little agent of chaos. But its tasks will include, among others, tracking. On those occasions when Amelia defeats our latest safety measures and escapes the house, the dog will find her for us so that we can bring her home safely!

I mentioned before that you can help; allow me to explain. Training one of these dogs is a costly process. Amelia’s dog will cost $13,000 to train. Most service dog organizations would place Amelia on a waiting list, from 2 to 5 years, until they could raise the necessary funds. However, 4 Paws for Ability is special in that they allow parents to volunteer and raise the money in their own community. This will allow Amelia to have her dog much sooner, and in addition, it will help bring this wonderful opportunity for all persons with disabilities to the public awareness. As you may know, autism affects many thousands of people, not to mention other disabilities (for example, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, epilepsy, or spina bifida) that afflict thousands more.

Please consider making a donation to support our efforts! Donations are tax-deductible. If you are unable to donate online, please contact me and I will provide you with a donation form. Please do not send money to us! Moneys are to go directly to 4 Paws, so please make checks payable to 4 Paws for Ability, and be sure to write “In Honor of Amelia Freeman” on the memo line so that we are given credit for our volunteer work. If you are unable to donate funds, you may wish to consider donating goods or services (to be used in a fundraising auction or raffle to benefit 4 Paws).

Thank you so much for your time, consideration, and support!

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