Disabled South Valley woman raising funds to finally bring service dog home

Non-profits, just like businesses, have been faced with extraordinary challenges this year.

That includes a South Valley organization dedicated to helping disabled people lead independent lives by pairing them with highly trained service dogs.

COVID-19 put the Assistance Service Dog Educational Center, or ASDEC, out of commission for several months.

Now, they're slowly and safely bringing training back, and they've managed to survive thanks to the financial support of local community members and organizations that see the value of their work.

"We enjoy being here," said ASDEC Head Facilitator Katie Parker said. "We enjoy the community that helps us out. And we really just want to show people that we're sticking around."

The financial fallout from COVID-19 has also created fundraising challenges for ASDEC clients, who are responsible for the full-cost of their service dog - around $17,000.

And while other clients have been fortunate to find funding, Bailey Riggs, who is deaf and suffers from chronic migraines, vertigo, and anxiety, is still waiting to bring Poppy home.

Poppy is a three-year-old Goldendoodle.

Counselors with the Department of Rehabilitation suggested that Bailey could benefit from a service dog, but because she hadn't made enough progress with school and therapy, in May, she learned they would not be purchasing one for her.

Bailey says she put school on hold because of health issues.

Because she doesn't work, she couldn't afford therapy or the dog.

(DOR officials say they cannot comment on specific consumer cases).

"So you can imagine me, after a year of working with her, kinda heartbreaking," Riggs said about DOR's decision to deny the purchase.

"Her and Poppy have just been such a great team and you can really see when a dog wants to work for their person," Parker said. "So we're really excited to kind of figure that out for her so she can finally take her home for good."

Donors have pitched in on Bailey's GoFundMe, but she still has a ways to go.

It's hard, because she knows having Poppy now would be especially helpful.

She could calm her down at medical appointments, or even catch her from falling when the vertigo kicks in.

"Every time I come here she just makes my day," Riggs said. "She always makes me forget what's going on with my life, with all these doctor's appointments and stuff. It's a positive effect on my life-that's what I needed."
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