Chestermere residents walked in the first annual Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides to raise proceeds for local service dogs on May 11.
“We are trying to raise enough money to give a service dog away,” said Chestermere City Councillor Mel Foat.
“Even if down the road I need a service dog for myself, it’s a way to help, and look after the cost,” he said.
The Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides is needed in because all of the funds collected from donations are used in May to provide Canadians with service dogs, Foat said.
“There’s no government funding. It’s strictly the from donations of people’s generosity,” he added.
Service dogs are trained to assist people through a variety of programs, including the Canine Vision, Hearing, Autism Assistance, Service, Seizure Response, Diabetic Alert, and Support.
“There needs to be support for people,” Foat said.
Foat added, the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides wants to expand and offer service dogs to support people who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
President of Community Therapy Dogs Society Steve King said service dogs cost approximately $25,000 to breed and train.
“We’re here to try to raise money to contribute towards the costs of these wonderful dogs,” King said.
The need for service dogs continues to grow, especially with stress-related programs, and the growing number of disabilities, he said.
A service dogs average working life is around six to eight years, King added. If someone has a service dog at a young age, they could have multiple dogs throughout their lifetime.
“We never actually meet the full demand for people who need service dogs. The supply will never meet the demand, but we do what we can,” King said.
The Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides has been happening across Canada for nearly two decades, and King hopes the walk will become a tradition in Chestermere.
Without the support of the community, local sponsors, and volunteers, the Pet Valu Walk for Dogs Guides wouldn’t have been possible.
“I would like to thank everybody for the time they have taken to do this, we appreciate it. Our community has rallied through this,” Foat said.