JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - For many people dogs serve as companion and pet, but for others, they have the potential to save lives.
"When we first started back in 2014, I didn't realize and we as a foundation didn't realize, the need in the area was as large as it's turned out to be," said Bubba Howell, Training Director of Hub City Service Dogs. "We've got dogs that are waking parents up at night, letting them know that there's a problem fixing to happen. And we're also doing the assistance dogs where paraplegics had to help them get through doors and push automatic doors to pick things up."
For many people, acquiring a service dog isn't easily achieved. The cost of a service dog can average about $20,000 and can be more expensive depending on their abilities.
In spite of the cost, having a service dog can be priceless because they have the capability to save lives.
"There's a girl in Jones County, she carries here dog with her to Jones Junior College," Howell said. "[The dog is] there right now, in class. She was trained to lay across her, comfort her, lick her hand."
JCJC Freshman, Lacey McLain attends class with her 14 month old Great Pyrenees mix named Snow. Lacey suffers from Tourette's as well as Negative Epileptic Myoclonus. Snow is able to alert Lacey if she is about to suffer from complications, as well as keep her calm during an episode.
"I'm very grateful to have her, she's made my lifestyle a lot easier," Lacey said. "I used to not like to go out on my own, and now I can because I feel secure with her, she's my security blanket. I can't imagine life without her or how I handled it beforehand, but she's really a blessing."
Howell's goal is to raise enough funds so that people and families suffering from medical disorders will be able to obtain a service dog without financial hassles. Hub City Service Dogs currently has 14 families on the waiting list to get dogs. He hopes stories like Lacy's will inspire others to help their cause.
"[The dog] will alert me and she does deep depression therapy and its where she puts her body on me and she'll hold down so I don't hurt myself when I have Tourette's," Lacy said. "I'm bad about hitting my collar bone or hurting others, but it's unintentional because it's an involuntary tic; it's a neurological disorder."
"When I'm having a seizure, she'll lay down with me, she'll control my arm with her body weight," said Lacy. "She'll continuously keep putting pressure on me, and she will make sure that I'm breathing. If I'm having problems too difficult to handle, she'll get my parents. I lose the ability to breathe and the muscles in my throat will lock up. She will put pressure on there to loosen up the muscles, and my mom will do that if it gets too bad."
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