East Bay News

California girl to receive free 'Canine Assistant'

Thursday, February 09, 2012

A girl's best friend doesn't have to have bling, bark will suffice. A California teenager with epilepsy is getting word that she'll soon receive a special Canine Assistant free of charge.

The Raley's Supermarket in Pleasanton is part of the life-changing Canine Assistants program. The dogs are expensive. A dog and its care can cost upwards of $20,000, putting them out of reach for a lot of people. Raley's has been donating to the group for years, but has never seen a local patient receive a dog, until now.

16-year-old Rose Azuna once fell to the floor during one of her epileptic seizures and blocked the door making it tough for her family to reach her. "When I woke up the next day, I had super bruises and everything," she recalled. So, she decided to apply for a service dog with the hope that the dog could help control the seizures by laying on her body, going for help, or better yet, warn her that a seizure was coming.

"After they bond with their person, there's just something, and they don't know why, but in about 88 percent of the cases, they will be able to detect before the person has the seizure," explain Canine Assistants Volunteer Lynn Engum. "This is after they bond. Before they bond, they'll go get help, they might run in circles, they just know that something's not right."

Rosa has been on a waiting list for a dog for three years. On Thursday, Canine Assistants officially announced she will receive one. Her dog has probably not even been born yet, but she says the wait is definitely worth it. "It would make me feel more secure, when I have my seizures and everything. And, it would be nice to have someone there," she said.

It may take about 1.5 years for her to meet and train her dog, but she will eventually get one. Canine Assistants relies on donations to be able to give the dogs away for free and that could explain why the group has 1,500 people on its waiting list.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
pleasanton, animal, charities, non-profit, east bay news, amy hollyfield
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