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Anchorage family seeks help raising money for service dog that could be life changing for 5-year-old

Published: Sep. 11, 2021 at 5:48 PM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2021 at 7:00 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For kids and adults with mental or physical disabilities, a service dog could make a world of difference in quality of life and peace of mind for parents or caregivers. A local family is seeking that peace of mind for their son Steven, but service dogs can be costly.

Steven Beaty’s parents describe him as a happy-go-lucky 5-year-old, who loves playing with his siblings, and exploring the world around him.

“But gets really hesitant in big groups, so when we try to do new things outside he gets withdrawn,” said Joelle Smith, Steven’s mom. “At home, he is probably one if the silliest kids I know.”

Beaty loves life, like most other children, but certain things can be a bit more difficult for Steven. He was recently diagnosed with autism, PTSD, and he experiences seizures.

“With the night seizures, it’s full body shaking, and he wakes up sick from them and kind of out of it for a couple of minutes until he can come to from it,” Smith said. “Then he has the day ones where he might be doing an activity and all of a sudden he just stops and stares off and you can’t get his attention, and he can have those for up to a minute.”

Smith said the night seizures happen about two or three times a week, and the daytime ones happen a few times throughout the month. This, combined with Beaty’s other diagnoses, led the family to look into a service dog. That’s when they found 4 Paws for Ability, a nonprofit based out of Ohio with a branch in Alaska. Beaty’s family is hoping one of these dogs will help them navigate some of the obstacles he faces.

“So when Steven starts to have a seizure, the dog is going to let mom and dad know,” said Peg Walsh Bernert, training director for 4 Paws Alaska. “We’re also going to help him with some anxiety issues maybe going out in public. Nothing like a fury friend to help you out in public. You don’t feel alone, you feel safe.”

However, service dogs are costly. From the breeding to training, and food and medical bills, it can add up to around $50,000-$60,000 but this nonprofit takes care of most of the costs. The organization asks the families to raise $17,000 on their own. That’s what Beaty’s family is doing. So far they’ve reached about $7,000 after getting creative with different ways to raise money from friends, family and the community. They hope one day a new four-legged member of the family will help bring safety and happiness to Beaty.

“Hopefully it will help him make friends because he’ll feel more comfortable in public situations and also help him hopefully realize that he’s able to obtain whatever he wants to be or whatever he wants to do,” Smith said. “And even though he may be frustrated or scared, that dog will be there to comfort him and help him through that process is our hope.”

For those interested in helping, the family has a Facebook fundraiser, or a Mighty Cause fundraiser people can donate to. People can also write a check made out to 4 Paws for Ability - Steven Beaty, and send it to 207 Dayton Ave. Xenia, OH 45385.

Editor’s note: Alaska’s News Source makes no representations or warranties of any kind about the authenticity, accuracy, or reliability of any Facebook fundraising or Mighty Cause campaign. Any donations you make to such campaigns are strictly at your own risk. If you have any questions related to the authenticity, accuracy, or reliability of a Facebook or Mighty Cause campaign, please contact Facebook or Mighty Cause directly.

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