Chaise Gets A Service Dog

September 30, 2020

An “outpouring of love from our community” has resulted in a Shelocta family’s success in quickly raising $18,000 for a trained autism support dog for their son.

The story of the Clouser family — parents Ashley and Justin and sons Chaise, 6, and Conner, who turns 2 in October — was featured in the Sept. 13 edition of the Gazette, where they described their journey to fundraise for a dog from 4 Paws For Ability, a nonprofit organization that provides service dogs.

The dog would assist Chaise, who has a diagnosis of autism and ADHD, as the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the behaviors associated with his condition and turned his world upside down, they said.

The Clousers thought the fundraising journey would be a long one.

According to 4 Paws For Ability, an autism assistance dog costs $40,000 to $60,000 to train. Because the organization is nonprofit, the cost to the family is about $17,000.

But an unexpected donation, coupled with a few fundraisers and community support, ended their fundraising journey in just a few weeks.

“My initial thought was that we would be planning fundraisers and events for at least six months up to a year to raise money for Chaise’s service dog,” Justin said.

“It has always been evident that we live in a very uplifting community, but never in my wildest dreams did I envision the fundraising process to last less than three weeks,” Ashley said.

Donations came from family, friends and “even strangers that took the time to donate and share our story on social media. That allowed for more awareness and ultimately us meeting our goal rather quickly,” Ashley said.

There were more than 110 donors for the effort.

Jeff Duffner and wife Angela, of Horizon Stables in Apollo where Chaise receives horses therapy, “worked tirelessly with Debbie Schultz at Schultz’s Sportsman Stop in Apollo to help organize three gun raffles that has helped us raise over $2,500,” Justin said.

A Facebook fundraising page listed $5,470 in donations as it closed.

Then, on Sept. 16, there was a phone call from someone interested in the status of the fundraisers and how much had been raised.

“Thinking that this person was just trying to figure out a fundraiser that would suit their needs, I provided all the information requested,” Ashley said. “This amazing couple then asked how much we still needed to raise. I explained a rough estimate and they indicated they needed a final amount as they were writing a check for the rest so we could focus on raising our boys rather than raising money.

“I honestly was like, ‘Wait, what?’ And as they continued to explain to me that this is happening, Chaise is getting his dog, I couldn’t help but fall to the floor in my kitchen and begin crying. This amazing couple just gave my son the lifeline we have been waiting for, and we feel so blessed.”

The Clousers said the donors wish to remain anonymous.

Once the pandemic has eased, the family plans to meet the couple and introduce them to Chaise and Conner.

“I explained that they are now considered part of our family and we are looking forward to getting to know them,” Ashley said.

Now that the money has been raised, Chaise can be added to a waiting list for his dog, as the canines are bred and trained on demand once fundraisers are complete. The waiting period is estimated at two years, they said.

After that, the family will attend a two-week training on handling the dog.

Prior to the pandemic, Chaise’s behavior was manageable, but the disruptions from the pandemic amplified incidents of biting, hitting and kicking to the point where Chaise was hospitalized at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital for the safety of himself and his family.

“We are confident that this new chapter in Chaise’s life will provide him with the coping skills to live his best life and honestly that’s all we want for him,” Ashley said.

Ashley said their family had reservations about asking others for help.

“We kind of felt guilty starting this journey, but with God’s guidance we have realized that this was not something we could handle on our own and set our pride aside to accept the generosity of our community in assisting Chaise,” Ashley said. “This couple and all our donors really have been amazing angels sent from God to help our son.”

  • Most Recent News

    Big Dogs Need Owners

    October 9, 2020

    When the shutdown orders took full effect, it became nearly impossible to find a small dog available for adoption as Southlanders sought furry companions. In many Southland shelters, only larger breeds remained available for adoption. Now Los Angeles Animal Service is touting the joys of big dogs while offering discounted adoption fees for larger breeds […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Walkathon

    October 9, 2020

    On Saturday, October 3, hundreds of walkers from across 15 states joined the path to bettering the world for children with autism and their families as part of BluePath Service Dogs’ fourth annual walkathon. The family-friendly fundraiser – this year held virtually – raised more than $120,000 to further BluePath’s mission of providing autism service […]

    Read more

    Service Dog In The Marching Band

    October 9, 2020

    In a year that is anything but normal, the Jones College Maroon Typhoon Marching Band has welcomed its first known service dog member this fall. Laurie, a 3-year-old golden retriever, is baritone saxophone player Sara-Beth McKellar’s service dog. The Vicksburg native was diagnosed with epilepsy as a sophomore in high school after her first seizure. […]

    Read more

    Church Blesses Animals

    October 9, 2020

    St. Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception in Port Jervis hosted a special outdoor service last Sunday afternoon to bless the community’s pets, animals and other living creatures. In keeping with current pandemic rules, pet owners wore masks, remained distant, and took part in praying for dogs, cats, turtles, and other pets and animals around […]

    Read more

    Police Welcomes New Canine

    October 9, 2020

    Young Kingston Police service dog Bask may look small, but his handler says his training and energy are proving that he’s up to fill the shoes of his predecessor. “I think he’s going to be a great little dog,” Const. Jeff Dickson said, looking down at his new partner. A partner that, wearing the right […]

    Read more

    Dog Park For Travelers

    October 9, 2020

    St. Petersburg is widely recognized as a dog-friendly city, and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is making sure its four-legged visitors and their humans feel welcome by rolling out the artificial turf carpet. With the completion of the airport’s parking and roadway project – part of a series of multi-million dollar improvements at the airport over the […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Helps Firefighters

    October 9, 2020

    Firefighters battling the Archie Creek and Thielsen fires have had some long, exhausting days. But for some, their troubles seemed to melt away once they got back to camp. Why? Meet Ralph Colombo. He hauls oversize loads. And joining Ralph is his service dog, Cowboy – the morale boosting, firefighting puppy. “He just keeps my […]

    Read more

    Pet Therapy Program

    October 9, 2020

    Saturday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, which this year has a new sense of urgency for many. Covid-19 has taken a mental and emotional toll on healthcare workers across the U.S but there is a program boosting the spirits of doctors and nurses on the frontlines. At UC Irvine Medical Center in Southern […]

    Read more

    A Service Dogs Place

    October 9, 2020

    A new Pineville nonprofit that helps people with disabilities obtain service dogs has made its first match. The Saber Life Foundation was started in March by Danea Key and her husband Joel. They provide people with trained service dogs, paying 51 percent of the cost, with the client paying the other 49 percent. Service dogs […]

    Read more

    Dog Beating Cancer

    October 9, 2020

    A little over a year after a local dog was given only a few months to live after being diagnosed with bone cancer, she is still in remission and will be celebrated her twelfth birthday this month. Cocoa has been with her owner, Bucyrus resident Christie Auck, since she was nine-weeks-old. “On Aug. 18, 2019, […]

    Read more

    More Recent News