Sharon Lambert, seen here with service dog Toby on Dec. 11, 2020, has set up a fundraiser to help pay for the costs of training him and so he can hopefully live with her full-time. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Sharon Lambert, seen here with service dog Toby on Dec. 11, 2020, has set up a fundraiser to help pay for the costs of training him and so he can hopefully live with her full-time. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

B.C. organization looking for donations to help get service dog into home of Fraser Valley woman

Epic Service Dogs is hoping to give a Christmas miracle to Sharon Lambert of Chilliwack

A B.C.-based organization that provides funding for people who need service dogs is putting out a desperate call for donations to get a canine into the home of a Chilliwack woman.

Epic Service Dogs, a registered non-profit organization in Victoria, is currently paying for the costs of Toby, a standard poodle who helps Sharon Lambert of Chilliwack.

Lambert suffers from mild brain damage, PTSD, anxiety and depression as a result of a 2009 car collision in Vancouver.

“I was running out into the road screaming at cars. I turned into a swearing machine which wasn’t like me at all,” Lambert recalled.

She’s on medication to help with her condition, but when she met Toby as a puppy a year and a half ago, she was introduced to a new kind of relief.

“Toby is something that’s non-medication that’s able to help me with my depression especially.”

He is owned by Vancouver Island K9 Consulting & Training (known as VI K9). Although the company is based in Victoria, Toby’s trainer is in Mission. He is still being trained and lives part time with Lambert for seven days at a time before going back to his trainer.

He’s a year and a half old and it will take three years to fully train him, which comes at a cost.

That’s where Epic Service Dogs comes in. Not only does Epic pay for the cost of training Toby, but they also help pay for his food, medical bills and items like the service harness he has to wear ($350 to $500).

Depending on what the dog is being trained for at VI K9, the price tag can range anywhere from $25,000 to $45,000 over the course of the three years of training. For Toby, it’s about $35,000.

Some people get funding for service dogs from the government or from organizations that specialize in that person’s disability (such as autism). In B.C., in order for someone with PTSD to qualify for government funding, that person has to be a first responder or in the military.

“I kind of fall through the cracks in that I’m not part of the military or a first responder,” Lambert said, which is why Epic is helping her.

Sharon Lambert, seen here with service dog Toby on Dec. 11, 2020, has set up a fundraiser to help pay for the costs of training him and so he can hopefully live with her full-time. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Sharon Lambert, seen here with service dog Toby on Dec. 11, 2020, has set up a fundraiser to help pay for the costs of training him and so he can hopefully live with her full-time. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

But when COVID-19 hit, the funds coming in to Epic Service Dogs slowed right down.

To make things worse, the chair of Epic was in a motorcycle crash in November, making raising money and awareness for the organization even more difficult.

“It’s been blow after blow for us,” said Epic vice chair Tiffany Thomas.

Epic is actually in debt right now with VI K9, but she speaks highly of the owner, Tyson King, who’s also a veteran.

“He’s been so kind and been so patient, but patience runs out and I get that,” Thomas said. “We need help.”

Lambert has now set up a GoFundMe to “kick things into gear and pull at people’s heartstrings” at Christmastime.

She’s hoping people will donate money so Epic can pay VI K9 to continue to train Toby in order for him to be with Lambert every day.

“The hope was, as of Jan. 1, that we would have him full time. That would be the ideal plan,” Lambert said.

When Toby is not with her, it’s hard for Lambert to get out of bed.

One of the coping mechanisms she uses to deal with her condition is getting out, socializing and talking to people, but that’s not doable in the midst of a pandemic.

“Especially with COVID, I need Toby more than I had before. He gets me out walking and moving,” Lambert said. “The days I don’t have him, I find very dark and difficult.”

Lambert’s three kids see firsthand the positive effects Toby has on her when he’s around.

“They make comments like ‘Mom, you go grocery shopping more often whenever you have Toby,’ or ‘you’re out of bed more often and I can see you and spend more time with you,’” Lambert said.

The entire family loves having Toby around and Lambert is wishing for a Christmas miracle so she can have him full-time.

“I love the funny noises he makes when he sniffs you and I love cuddling up with him on the couch. He’s nice and warm, and comfortable and calming. He’s a very calming presence.”

To donate to the cause, go to gofundme.com/f/save-toby-the-service-dog. Additionally, people can drop cash into one of the coin tins located at: Bosley’s (18-6014 Vedder Rd.), Garrison Pharmacy (1-45555 Market Way), Cell Phones ‘n More (4-45575 Keith Wilson Rd.), and Merci Coffee Truck in Garrison.

Note: An earlier version of this story referred to Epic as a charity. Epic is a registered non-profit organization. The Progress regrets the error and any confusion it may have caused.

RELATED: Mac the UFV therapy dog now available in stuffie form


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Dogsfundraiser

Just Posted

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Ladysmith Harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water harbour, none of them threatening

More and more graffiti has appeared in Ladysmith’s downtown core during the pandemic. (Cole Schisler photo)
Council creates rebate program to encourage graffiti clean up

Property owners can receive up to $50 to help fund graffiti removal

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens between Port Alberni and Tofino

Multi-vehicle accident temporarily closed highway in both directions

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read