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 in a Toasty Toes campaign, and host the local finalists for the Lions’ international peace poster contest, the club also had time to raise funds for 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 station, 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.