Callie Dalla Rosa: The pricing of service animals
When you have epilepsy, you lose freedom. My parents are always worried about me being alone because I have seizures randomly with no warning. We thought about getting an epileptic service dog to help warn us if I was about to have a seizure, but they were too expensive.
Then we thought about just getting our current dog trained, but that is too expensive. We looked everywhere we could for cheap options so I was able to have some protection, safety and freedom, but couldn’t find anything. My hopes of getting a permit and then my license were pushed aside.
Like me, many people suffer with epilepsy and many lose hope in their dreams and have a hard time reaching their goals. Many also can’t drive because of their seizures. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are “3.4 million people with epilepsy nationwide: 3 million adults and 470,000 children.”
Service dogs are extremely expensive. And for people who really need a service dog but can’t afford them, it can be scary. You could end up having a seizure, anxiety attack, breakdowns, etc. And if you’re alone, these things can be dangerous and potentially become fatal if nobody is there to help you.
That’s why service dogs are important to people with medical conditions. Service dogs help people in many ways, such as making someone with anxiety feel more calm or helping someone with epilepsy by preventing harm to their owners or others around them.
But those of us who really need one and don’t have thousands of dollars can’t get one. Which is why the pricing needs to be dropped or people who don’t have that type of money should get the option of paying some of the money each month until the dog is paid off.
Recently, while on a shopping trip, I ran into a lady named Dyane at Sam’s Club who suffers from Tourette syndrome and asked her a few questions about her service dog, Karma. She explained that Karma was gifted to her and her husband, who is disabled, and if it weren’t for Karma being a gift, they never would have been able to get her. Karma helps her stay more calm in public so her Tourette’s isn’t as active and also helps her husband with walking. Dyane also told me that service dogs aren’t just initially expensive. They are also expensive to feed, costing up to $100 every three weeks for their specific diet.
After sitting and thinking about some ways that service dogs could be more accessible to people, I came to the conclusion that there could be a price reduction on service dogs or we could also create ways for people to pay for them over time. Perhaps as a government institution to have things better organized and available to more people. We can also invest in having more people trained to train more service dogs so the pricing for each dog goes down to be more affordable to the public as demands decrease. And even that insurance should help cover service animals. Especially for the people who need them and can’t afford them on their own.
There are people out there who need the assistance of a service dog, and very few people can get one. If we start working together to spread the awareness of this issue, we can make a change. People will be able to get the assistance they have been needing and some even be able to drive and have more independence. People will be much safer having a trained companion to aid them with their medical conditions.
If you would like to donate to my GoFundMe campaign to help me get a service dog, the link is gf.me/u/y89bt8.
Callie Dalla Rosa is a 16-year-old student at Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning in Nevada City. She lives in Grass Valley.
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