By Rob Mooy Kingston Heritage – April 20, 2016
These days it’s a not an uncommon sight to see our four-legged friends working as service dogs alongside people with special needs.
There has been a big demand for service dogs in this community for many years and the ultimate goal of Kingston 4 Paws Service Dogs is to help as many families as possible.
But placing these dogs costs money. To help offset the cost, they will be holding the 1st Annual K4Paws Charity Auction at the Vimy Officer’s Mess – CFB Kingston, April 23, from 2-5 p.m.
Samantha Knapp is a mother of six children, two with special needs. She discovered early on that she needed help. When checking into getting a dog for her daughter, she found the wait list was several years long.
“I had learned about what a dog could do for families with special needs children but sadly, the wait list to get a (service) dog was very long.”
Taking matters into her own hands, the Kingston native went back to school for some extensive training. Upon graduation she trained her first service dog for seizure alert/response and autism over a decade ago.
Wanting to help other families with similar circumstances, she joined forces with Elizabeth Bailey to open Kingston 4 Paws Service Dogs.
“Our business will hopefully shorten the wait list for families,” adds Knapp. “I train both service dogs and companion dogs. It’s a very rewarding job. I train service dogs for autism, seizure work, mobility issues and PTSD.”
Since its inception, Kingston 4 Paws has placed six dogs with adults, teens and children suffering from PTSD, sensory processing disorder, autism, Down’s syndrome, mobility and mental health issues.
They are currently training 23 puppies and their waiting list is growing daily.
“The number of people on the wait list exceeds the number of dogs we have so we are going to be adding a few more dogs soon.”
There is no need for a parent with a special needs child to have to do everything all on their own.
To get on the list for one of these special dogs, “Families just need to apply for a service dog through Kingston 4 Paws, have proof of a medical issue that requires the help of a dog, and a supportive family willing to learn. The dogs are very expensive to purchase and train.”
Depending on what the dog is being trained for, it costs between $20-$25,000 per dog to purchase, train, vet, feed, and place these dogs.
Knapp is quick to add that the family is not always expected to foot the entire cost of a service dog.
“The families are not alone with the cost of the dog; we help them with fundraising and provide ideas of how they can afford one of our service dogs.
“We decided on an auction because it gives people a wonderful afternoon of fun in a beautiful setting with a chance to bid on some incredible and unique items,” explains Knapp. “People can expect exciting items in the live auction, hundreds of unique items in the silent auctions, a surprise box that can be purchased for $20, and a grand prize of an iPad mini.”
She adds that “The food is going to be amazing and there will be complementary wine tasting as well. People will get the chance to meet some of our dogs and also meet the trainers.”
Leisure Ways RV, who has donated a one week rental of an RV, will have the actual RV parked out front for people to see.
“You will also be one of the reasons we can offer a PTSD dog to a veteran, or an autism dog to a child in need. This event is all about support, fun, great deals, and helping the community.”
Tickets are $50, which gets you a $20 tax receipt, wine tasting, tasty hors d’oeuvres, a chance to bid on some amazing items, a really fun afternoon, and a chance to meet some of the puppies and their trainers.
For more information visit www.k4paws.ca .