Benefit bingo helps teen get service dog
The Star Democrat - 10/17/2017
TRAPPE - A upcoming benefit bingo aims to help a young man from Trappe to acquire a much needed service dog.
Jesse Shorter, a 13-year-old boy from Trappe, has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism and high anxiety, along with several other diagnoses.
"Getting a service dog is the best thing ever," said Shorter, "she is going to be my best friend."
Since service animals are not typically covered by insurance and can cost between $5,000 and $20,000, a fundraising group will be holding a benefit bingo Sunday, Oct. 29, at Denton Volunteer Fire Company to defray some of the cost.
Because the service training organization he is working with is donating some of their time as well, Shorter has been able to meet his dog, Cadence, and start training with her.
"They are really quite a pair - Cadence fell in love with Jesse almost immediately," Hannah Combs of Alistair K9 said "And the feeling was mutual."
"Waiting for her to finally come home with me is the hardest part," Shorter said, "I feel like I'm going to explode."
Cadence is a younger German Shepherd who is learning to alert to certain cues that will in turn allow her to help Shorter function better when in stressful environments.
This is important to helping him participate in a classroom or group setting and generally in dealing with the stronger side effects of post traumatic stress.
Although Shorter is currently not attending traditional school because of his medical conditions, Talbot County Public Schools are interested in learning how service dogs will fit into their system. It is anticipated that Shorter will be able to return to school with his dog sometime in the next 18 months.
Combs said it is important to remember a few things when relating to an individual with a service dog.
"Service animals are working animals, not pets - and it would not be okay to assume that these dogs can be petted without permission; and secondly, not all disabilities are visible," Combs said. "We want to remember that an individual who has a service dog is likely facing some stigma from their disability and in the case of a mental illness, being in public, loud crowds, or other such environments can be overwhelming, even without the added stress of having someone question or call attention to their disability."
The Easton Elks Lodge and other area businesses have generously donated to the fundraiser.
"In this particular situation we are striving to cover the purchase of the dog, having her spayed, and to assist with part of the cost of training," Combs said. "Talbot Partnership is the fiscal agent for the fundraising project and we anticipate working with them again in the future to provide another dog to an individual from Talbot County who might be in need of a service dog."
Presently the group has four active members including Randy Combs, trainer; Megan Stubbs, an ER nurse with Shore Health Systems who has coordinated a large part of the fundraiser; and Claudia Thomas, legal.
"We are pleased to have this opportunity to work with Jesse and look forward to raising awareness about service dogs and providing a service to our community," said Combs.
She said each recipient of a service animal is fully vetted through their program.
"The family that will be receiving the service dog has been vetted fully through our new foundation's screening process," Combs said. "Not everyone's needs ?look' the same, but please be aware that an individual who may be in need of a service animal, likely already faces a stigma of some type. Be kind. And thank you to those who have expressed their support in many ways."
The event begins at noon Oct. 29, with the bingo starting at 1 p.m., it includes Longaberger baskets, pottery, Thrity-one merchandise, a 50/50 raffle and a Chinese auction.
There will also be fantastic auction prizes including a fishing charter trip, a bushel of crabs, a hunting excursion for a party of six and a stay at Bridgetown Manor.
Advance tickets are $20 and $25 at the door.
For more information about the bingo or to donate, visit www.facebook.com/events/1460492347367121 or for general inquiries contact Combs at at 443-239-9169.
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