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CAMA to hold fundraiser for service dogs

Help for vets and their best friends

CAMA was able to place service dog Dekker with Mike Novak thanks to successful fundraising to help cover the costs. Photo courtesy of Mike Novak

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We occasionally see them out in public when we are running our day-to-day errands. We notice the service dogs wearing their work vests and the person they are with. But for the most part, many of us continue on with our day and pay little attention or even remember the service dog later on. For veterans, service dogs are so much more than a furry companion, they can be literal life savers by helping reduce the onset of a fury of post-traumatic stress disorder-related rage that builds up in a veteran. PTSD is a physical disability that cannot be seen but service dogs have now been trained to sense the onset of symptoms and can calm their owners. A little known fact is just how expensive training, caring for, and placing a service dog with a veteran can be. Luckily, places like Canine Alerts and Medical Assistance (CAMA) hold quarterly fundraisers to help offset the associated costs with service dogs.

Veteran Mike Novak's life changed for the better when his service dog, Dekker, came into his life in December 2016. Novak had spent a considerable amount of time on other service dog wait lists and then he came into contact with CAMA. Novak suffers from PTSD along with other physical disabilities, and Dekker knows when Novak is about to suffer from PTSD-related emotional distress. Dekker will place himself directly in front of Novak to try and get his attention to focus on him. If Novak does not focus his attention on Dekker, the dog will then jump up and put his two front paws on Novak's chest to draw away the stresses from Novak. "People need to understand how having a service dog can dramatically change a person's life," said Novak.

Knowing how beneficial service dogs are to our veterans, CAMA will be holding a fundraiser at The Y Sports Bar and Grill in Spanaway Saturday, May 13 at 3 p.m. The event is being sponsored by Novak and his wife, Sonya. The fundraiser will be jam packed full of local vendors who are donating amazing raffle prizes in support of all that CAMA does for our veterans. Larry the Cable Guy has even sent in autographed merchandise to be raffled. Other raffle items will come from Gruntstyle, Disgruntled Decks, Military Luggage Company, Diamond Dog Food, Alpha Outpost, as well as items from Warfighter Boone Cutler. The main raffle prize with be a $300 prize to go towards a tattoo from the tattoo artist of your choice.

Not only would CAMA love to be able to place 22 service dogs with veterans this year, a number that has significant meaning regarding the 22 veterans that take their lives daily, but CAMA is also working towards the goal of creating the nation's first regional Service Dog School. This would specifically provide programs like "Service Dog Boot Camp" for disabled veterans. "Dekker is so much more to our family than a working tool," said Novak. "We would love for the opportunity to educate people about service dogs and how they can change someone's life."

If you would like more information about the event, please contact Mike Novak: 253.961.6857. The CAMA fundraiser will be held at The Y Sports Bar and Grill, 19306 Mountain Hwy. E., Spanaway.

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