Wool­wich Lions raise funds to pro­vide sup­port dog for autism

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - FAISAL ALI

THE LIONS’ MOTTO IS “we serve,” and that’s been on dis­play of late.

In a month that saw the Wool­wich Com­mu­nity Lions col­lect bags full of warm cloth­ing for home­less peo­ple in the re­gion through a Toasty Toes cam­paign, and host the lo­cal fi­nal­ists for the Lions’ in­ter­na­tional peace poster con­test, the club also had time to raise funds to pro­vide some­one in need with a ser­vice dog.

“Last week, we sent a cheque to the Lions Foun­da­tion of Canada to spon­sor an autism as­sist dog, and if our money is re­ceived be­fore the end of the year, it’s dou­bled,” ex­plained Lion Nancy Booth. “So we sent $6,000, so when it’s dou­bled it will be $12,000, and that will cover the cost of spon­sor­ing an autism as­sist dog.”

The money was raised through the club’s ear­lier Hal­loween dance, which was run in part­ner­ship with the Elmira fire sta- tion, with the prof­its from the event go­ing to­wards the new guide dog.

It’s the fifth ser­vice dog the Wool­wich Lions have been able to pur­chase since 2007, en­sur­ing chil­dren re­ceive their ser­vice an­i­mals with­out ex­pense. At $6,000 a dog, the costs can be im­mense for fam­i­lies in need, and the de­mand for th­ese an­i­mal com­pan­ions has out­paced the sup­ply.

Like the more con­ven­tional see­ing-eye dogs, ser­vice dogs too are trained to aid chil­dren, as well as adults, with autism. The an­i­mals are trained from an early age to pro­vide com­fort and sup­port, re­duce stress in so­cial sit­u­a­tions and di­min­ish ag­gres­sion in chil­dren on the autism spec­trum.

The Lions Foun­da­tion of Canada Dog Guides ded­i­cates it­self to pro­vid­ing chil­dren and youth aged 3 to 12 across the coun­try with ser­vice dogs at no charge, and since 2009 have cre­ated a pro­gram specif­i­cally train­ing dogs for autism.

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