Bringing service dogs to the people who need them

Canine Assistants is a non-profit organization that trains and provides service dogs for children and adults with physical disabilities. For nearly 20 years, Canine Assistants has provided service dogs to people across the country, giving them the chance to have more independent lifestyles. Sams Club is proud to be a sponsor of this worthwhile program.

Without any government funding, Canine Assistants relies on the generosity of philanthropic partners whose private donations help cover the cost of training these dogs to assist those with special needs. For more than 10 years, Del Monte Foods has partnered with Sams Club to donate special service dogs to members of the Sams Club community. Sams Club is one of the lead retail partners for the program and continues to lend support within the communities it serves. During 2010 and 2011, Del Monte and Sams Club donated 24 service dogs. This long-term partnership aims to provide service dogs and better lives for the recipients and their families for many more years.

Lisa Volz of Huntsville, Ala., knows firsthand how this program can work miracles. Her son Sam, 17, has suffered from epileptic seizures for eight years. They waited for three years and this year finally got the call that Del Monte and Sams Club would sponsor an assistance dog for Sam.

Lisa says that the dog has changed her sons life.His seizures are in the vision part of his brain so that his vision is distorted, but many times he will lose his cognitive abilities, she says. Sam has a vagus nerve stimulator in his chest. When he feels a seizure starting, he can swipe a magnet over the implant and it will send an electrical impulse to his brain and can stop the seizure. The people from Canine Assistants told me that the dog will have a magnet in its bandana, so the dog could swipe the magnet over Sams implant by itself.

That opens up a whole new world for us, she continues. I used to worry about him being on the other side of the store. But having that companion dog who can swipe his implant and get help is life changing not just for Sam, but for all of us.

For more information, visit canineassistants.org.