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Parkinson’s Disease

Dr. Peter Morabito’s dog Victor was trained by Independence Dogs, Inc. (IDI). Located in Chadds Ford, Penn., this non-profit company just graduated its 100th service dog.

Service dogs are trained to pull wheelchairs, support someone who is falling and turn on and off light switches. The assistance can be invaluable for someone with Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or spinal cord injuries.

The training process is extensive and expensive. Puppies are donated by individuals or shelters. IDI trains all different kinds of dogs, although many have been Labradors. Each dog costs between $10,000 and $12,000 to train.

The formal training takes four to six months. The president of Independence Dogs, Inc, Jean King, and her employees try to match a dog with an applicant by studying a video tape of them and other references. The recipient then comes to the school in Chadds Ford, Penn. and learns and bonds with his or her new dog for three-weeks.

Independence Dogs, Inc is supported by donations, and gives the dogs away after an extensive application process. Recipients are asked to contribute $200 to buy a custom-made harness.

The relationship between service dog and owner is a two way street. The dog is with that person 24 hours a day. It takes a lot of work on the person’s part as well as on the dog’s part.

But the benefits are worth it. Like most people with service dogs, Peter Morabito says his service dog has brightened his life and given him much comfort.

To contact Independence Dogs, Inc. call (610) 358-5314 or e-mail idi@ndepot.com.


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