Exceptional Evan and His Seizure Dog By Mimi Ausland
Evan Moss can't wait for next year when he gets his new dog and gets to "give him a big hug!" He has a huge reason to be excited for his future furry friend, because not only will he be a great companion, but he will also be a lifesaver. Literally.
Evan has epilepsy and suffers from severe, possibly life-threatening seizures. So when he and his parents (Lisa and Rob Moss) found out about a type of specially trained dog that can detect seizures and act to help him, they knew they needed to find a way to get one. That's when this amazing 7-year-old boy had the idea to write his very own book to help raise the $13,000.00 needed to buy a seizure dog.
It's one thing to have the idea to write the book and another to actually make it happen. But he did it – and did it really well. Evan wrote and illustrated "My Seizure Dog", available on Amazon.com. He even got to have his very first book signing where about 650 people came to buy the book and meet him. "The lines stretched out the door and down the block." Says Lisa. "We sold out of books and people still stood in line just to meet Evan". One of his favorite parts of the day was meeting service dogs. "There were 7 or 8 service dogs in attendance and Evan got to meet them and interact with them. He loves dogs and it seemed like every time he began to get tired another dog would come in and he would be recharged", Lisa says.
Evan at his book-signing
Everything about this story is exceptional. But the best part is that the Mosses have reached their fundraising goal to get Evan's seizure dog. In fact, he exceeded his goal and the extra funds raised will go to 4 Paws for Ability to help several other children in similar situations with their fundraising efforts.
Having this dog will turn Evan's life around. At one point, he was having 300-400 short seizures a month. Brain surgery stopped those from happening. But two years ago, much longer and more serious seizures started - the kind that can require serious medication and emergency medical response. Having a seizure dog can provide critical help.
The experience of Evan writing the book spurred Rob and Lisa to create the Seizure Tracker Web Site, a free and innovative way for epileptics (and other disease sufferers) to record and share the times and amounts of medications and events. The site has 8,000 registered users worldwide!
Despite having epilepsy, Evan is upbeat and excited about living life to the fullest. And in June 2012, when he receives his new dog, his life will become more full!
For more information, or to support 4 Paws for Ability, check them out here.
This is my cat, but it could be anyone's face in a shelter...
EnlargeBy Chad Greene, for USA TODAYJon Wehrenberg, co-founder of Pilots N Paws, unloads carriers full of shelter dogs in Greensboro, N.C. "Pilots love to fly. I believed that if we created a means for them to discover situations where they could fly and also save animals, many would do it," he said.
IF YOU HAVE WINGS
Sarah Case figures that anyone with access to wings can help transport homeless animals by air. The commercial airline pilot, who lives in Florissant, Colo., and flies out of Minneapolis, is working to get the word out to pilots who fly passenger jets.
Many pilots and flight attendants "commute" to their home base airport, and for a small fee they're permitted to take small animals with them in the cabin, or transport larger ones in the cargo hold.
"For animals that have to be moved several states, this is a good option," says Case, who has carried eight rescued animals on flights when she was off duty.
She has begun posting Pilots N Paws flyers in airport areas where airline professionals congregate and offers her expertise to those wanting to aid the effort.
Pilots are donating their time, planes and fuel to transport dozens of dogs a month from overcrowded shelters where they face almost certain death to rescue groups and shelters several states away that are committed to finding them homes.
The mission-of-mercy relocations are flown by general aviation pilots who have signed on with the recently formed Pilots N Paws, a Web-based message board where pilots can access information about animals in need.
Once the electronic connection is made, dogs plucked by rescuers from death row — mostly in the South where sterilization rates are low and pet overpopulation is rampant — are loaded onto small planes and flown one, two or six at a time to rescue groups and shelters that have available space.
"These are wonderful dogs that simply had the bad luck of winding up in a place where there are too many pets in shelters," says Pilots N Paws co-founder Jon Wehrenberg of Knoxville, Tenn. The retired manufacturing executive and weekend pilot has flown scores of dogs from high-kill shelters this year. Earlier this month, his mission involved six small mixed-breed dogs from Knoxville's Young-Williams Animal Center.
The happy half-dozen enjoyed a smooth-sailing, 90-minute flight to Greensboro, N.C., where they were met by radio station executive Jennifer Hart, head of Animal Rescue & Foster Program, who had arranged foster care. One dog has been adopted; the others are receiving additional attention, socialization and training and should be ready for new homes soon after Thanksgiving.
Beginning of the journey
"Pilots N Paws has given about 20 of our animals a second chance," says Tim Adams, executive director of the Young-Williams shelter, which euthanizes 70% of the animals that land there. "We take in 17,000 animals a year, and Knoxville simply isn't big enough… to get new homes for them here. Twenty animals saved may not sound like much, but every one of them matters."
Pilots N Paws started operating in February soon after Wehrenberg offered to fly a Doberman in Florida to his pal Debi Boies of Landrum, S.C., who is a retired nurse, horse breeder and long-time rescuer. He began asking questions about the rescue world and learned about the passionate underground railroad of animal lovers who orchestrate days-long road journeys to save some of the 4 million to 6 million animals destined for euthanasia in U.S. shelters annually.
"I'd had no idea of the number of animals being euthanized, and the ordeal people and animals were going through in transports," Wehrenberg says. "Pilots love to fly. I believed that if we created a means for them to discover situations where they could fly and also save animals, many would do it."
He and Boies joined forces to spread the word, and within months, 85 pilots had signed on. Nearly 200 dogs have now been flown from several shelters and rescue groups to welcoming arms hundreds of miles away.
"For most of these dogs, the next walk they would have taken would have been to death's door," says administrative assistant Dawn Thompson of Falconer, N.Y., who for 18 years has taken in, nursed, socialized and re-homed more than 100 dogs a year from various high-kill areas. In recent months 30 have arrived via Pilots N Paws, and she's learned the ones that arrive by plane rather than ground transport "don't have the stress that two days on the road creates, and that makes them almost instantly adoptable."
'Doggy kisses' are worth gas
Each flight costs the pilot hundreds of dollars in fuel alone, not including routine maintenance and other operating expenses. Boies and Wehrenberg are working to gain non-profit status for the group so pilots could declare the fuel costs a charitable contribution. But the pilots aren't exactly agitating for that.
"Doggy kisses are worth the $6 a gallon," says Westminster, Md., businesswoman and small-plane pilot Michele McGuire. She was recently part of a two-leg rely that flew a 110-pound skin-and-bones Great Dane from Arab, Ala., where a rescue group saved it from euthanasia, to a new family in Baldwin, Mass.
"I don't know what (the animals') opinion of flying is, but it sure makes their trip a lot shorter," says Nick O'Connell, a Williamsburg, Va., contractor who did his first such flight earlier this month. The two-leg hand-off involved two pilots, several hundred miles and two chow-mix puppies rescued from a dump near Atlanta and delivered to their new family in Chesterfield, Va.
The animals are almost always remarkably calm about the adventure, O'Connell and other pilots report.
"It's almost as if they understand that this is their chance for life," Boies says.
Sometimes pilots scroll through the "Transport needed" section of Pilots N Paws and find a plea to fly an animal to a town or city they already were planning to visit.
Most times, however, they study the requests, see a need that touches them and offer their services.
Broomfield, Colo., software engineer/pilot Mike Boyd was involved in a multi-state, multi-person transport of a German shepherd in October, and he's aiming to do more missions. "To take my hobby and apply it to help this situation, well, it's just a great feeling," he says.
Adds O'Connell: "It is rewarding beyond my wildest imagination."
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