Source: Meridian Source (Extract)
Posted: June 07, 2024

Brandy Stangowitz, manager at Pet Valu, highlighted the significance of last Sunday morning’s Walk for Guide Dogs, in collaboration with the Lions Club of Canada, by sharing a touching story: “There’s a lady in Lloydminster whose dog helps her with her diabetes. Her dog alerts her when her sugar levels are about to drop, so she’s now able to go back to work thanks to the dog. She’s a member of society again and has that freedom back.”

The event, organized by Pet Valu, unfolded at Bud Miller All Season Park, with all proceeds dedicated to supporting the Lions of Canada Dog Guide School in Oakville, Ont.

“As a national sponsor for the guide dogs of Canada, Pet Valu provides food for all of the guide dogs across the country,” explained Stangowitz, adding that Pet Valu also covers the expenses for veterinary check-ups for dogs-in-training.

“At the local level, Pet Valu spearheads fundraising efforts to facilitate the training of guide dogs,” stated Ray Tatro, outgoing president of the local Lions. “On average, it costs roughly $30,000 to train a dog, and these invaluable companions are provided to recipients at no cost to them.”

Tatro emphasized the significance of the partnership between the Lions club and Pet Valu, highlighting the profound impact service dogs have on their handlers. “The Lions dog guide school offers seven different types of assistance dogs,” he elaborated. “Initially focusing on sight dogs, the program has expanded to include hearing, service (for individuals with medical or physical disabilities), Autism assistance, diabetes alert, seizure response, and facility support (trauma support).”

“Guide dogs profoundly transform the lives of recipients, with approximately 200 dogs in Alberta and Saskatchewan having graduated from the school,” Tatro added. He also mentioned the ongoing construction of a new $50 million training facility in Oakville to address the growing demand for guide dogs.