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Family raising funds to get young woman a service dog to help with seizures

For many years Amanda Burrows had been experiencing seizures on occasion. In 2017 the seizures got worse – she would suffer from grand mal seizures and multiple absence seizures each day – to the point where the now 20-year-old Kitchener woman was spending much of her time in and out of hospitals.

During that time, doctors said she should get a service dog and her mother and sister immediately began looking for a way to get her that new companion.

After raising about $2,000 they paid for the remainder of the $20,000 dog out of their savings. Burrows got to know the dog as it was trained to help her in her everyday life dealing with the seizures. However, in early 2020 the two-year-old pup was deemed unfit to work as a service dog and had to retire for health reasons.

“We were really disappointed, but more so because Amanda had been training with that dog for two years. She grew to love him, and they were companions. They worked really well together but because of his health issues, it just wasn’t going to work, so it was really disappointing to lose out on him. But we knew we’d have to figure something out, so that’s where we [currently] sit,” said Sharlene Mohlman, Burrows’ sister.

Mohlman says she tried her best to get the dog replaced but she could not get a new one from the organization they worked with, nor was their money refunded either. She reached out to other organizations that work and train with service dogs, but says Burrows’ condition is an outlier and does not fit within the parameters set out to receive a dog.

Now the family is working to raise funds to purchase a new dog that will be coming to help within the next few months from Doug Chivas and his organization Working Paws.

Mohlman said she is extremely grateful to Chivas for bumping Burrows up on the list after hearing what had happened and is allowing her to start training with the dog this fall. They will also not have to pay the full price up front like they did in the past, instead having two years to cover the cost.

So far, they have raised $1,000 through a bottle drive that was started over the last few months. To help them inch closer towards their new goal of about $19,000 the family will be hosting a silent auction on August 8 at 54 Williamsburg Rd, Kitchener.

Mohlman says they have received many donations from local businesses, including a 55-inch television and a bench made by a local welder. She says the Crumby Cookie Dough Company will also be at the event selling cookie dough for both humans and dogs. Silent auction sheets will be up for certain items, with others items being won in a raffle-ticket style.

Because of this experience Mohlman says she now has the urge towards some form of advocacy, so others like her sister do not have to go through this kind of problem in the future. She has contacted local government officials and hopes in the future to see these things changed so no one in need of a service dog has to go without.

The auction will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on August 8.

To make a donation to the auction or to the cause email Mohlman at sharlenemohlman@gmail.com.

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