Hawthorne, NJ, May 01, 2019 --(PR.com
)-- Valentina, a 10-year old girl living in Hawthorne, New Jersey, has received a very special delivery today of her very own Autism Service Dog from SDWR to assist her and help better communicate her needs. Based in Madison, Virginia, Service Dogs by SDWR has a mission to provide specially-bred and trained dogs for people with invisible disabilities like Diabetes, PTSD, Seizure Disorders, or in the case of Valentina - Autism Spectrum Disorder. SDWR has hundreds of service dogs working across the United States and around the globe. SDWR is currently serving approximately 1,000 families.
Sheryl, a labrador retriever Autism Service Dog, recently graduated from SDWR’s Service Dog Raiser Program where volunteers diligently raise young service dogs in training over the course of approximately one year. Both the dogs and raisers must complete the foundation and skill set training provided through SDWR trainers at their facility in Virginia.
Sheryl is also an honored graduate of the SDWR Fallen Officer Puppy Program. The Fallen Officer Puppy Program, also known as “FOPP,” is an initiative by SDWR to pay respect to the legacy of service by fallen American police who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. Sheryl is named in honor of fallen hero Sergeant Sheryl A. Pierce of the South Londonderry Township Police Department in Pennsylvania who died as the result of Hepatitis C, which she contracted in 1994 while subduing a man who was bleeding profusely. Sheryl’s work as an Autism Service Dog with Valentina will carry on in memoriam of Sergeant Pierce’s life of service before self.
Valentina was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at age 4 and with Epilepsy ESES at age 8. Valentina is on the autism spectrum, has ADHD, ODD, and a rare seizure disorder which causes behavioral and academic issues. Her seizures are typically silent and happen during sleep. The medicine she is currently has them under control. Our most concerning issues are residual regression academically, socially and emotionally due to the seizures and the autism. Valentina suffers from anxiety and social issues. She often feels alone and suffers from depression. Valentina’s family is hopeful that a service dog will act as a guardian and help keep her safe and comfort her.
Sheryl will assist in reducing the effects each diagnosis has on the family’s independence and daily life by working continuously with Valentina. Since Sheryl is a service dog and covered under laws in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he will be able to accompany Valentina and her family everywhere - from school, to the park, and even grocery shopping or out to restaurants.
SDWR’s unique training program is what sets them apart from other non-profit service dog organizations. SDWR trainers will continue to return for training sessions with Valentina, her family, and Sheryl every 3-4 months over the course of the next 18 months to continue working on Sheryl’s customized training, follow up training and training the human to make a successful team and public access certification.
Service Dogs by SDWR is a nonprofit organization based in Madison, Virginia, and relies on donations to help the organization in its mission, “Until there’s a cure...there’s a dog.” To make or donation or learn more about SDWR, please visit the website, https://www.sdwr.org. To learn more about Autism Service Dogs go to https://www.sdwr.org/service-dogs/autism/. To find out how you can volunteer as a puppy raiser visit https://www.sdwr.org/volunteer-opportunities/.