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Why I walk

To hear the story of how we got started follow this link: https://youtu.be/Ky6sr0_YbKQ

Healing trauma with a wet nose and a warm heart

In October of 2021, we were told that our daughter, Emily Jean (Schwarz) Ferlazzo, was missing, but we soon discovered, that she had been taken from us. This single act of horrific domestic violence dramatically changed the lives of everyone who loves her. Every day since has been an extraordinary challenge for our family. Adrienne has been diagnosed with PTSD, which comes with a variety of symptoms. Our focus now is on trying to heal, a challenging prospect in which a service dog will play a vital role.
 

 Photo of Preslee, courtesy of Cailey Clogston of Domestic Dog Training

Preslee, a golden retriever with Domestic Dog Training, has been undergoing extensive training to become a psychiatric service dog. Preslee is learning to complete tasks such as providing a barrier between Adrienne and the public, providing deep pressure therapy during panic attacks, and medication retrieval, to name a few. To see videos of her progress, visit our website: emilyjeansvoice.org

The research has been clear about service dogs as a tool for psychological healing, not only for survivors but also for their families and caregivers (Bibbo et al., 2019). However, most survivors “…with PTSD don't have the resources to get a service dog, which costs upwards of $20,000" (Jacobson, 2015) or more. Unfortunately, the only option is to create a crowdsourcing campaign, reach out to charities, make calls, and advocate for ourselves. A daunting task in the wake of massive life-changing trauma. Sadly, until everyone is ready to address the scourge of domestic violence, other individuals and their families will continue to find themselves in similar situations.

Photo of Emily Jean & Remington snuggling, courtesy of Emily Jean

Emily loved animals, especially her family dog Remington, who witnessed those very last moments of Emily’s life. In Emily's honor, we are working closely with the Crisis Center of Central New Hampshire to create a project, called Emily Jean’s Voice. The primary purpose of this fund will be to raise money to help us and other survivors of domestic violence afford either an emotional support dog or a service dog. Therefore, funds raised through this campaign will help cover Preslee's training. They will also go directly into the memorial fund to help other survivors afford their own service animals. 

We want to help others, so they don't find themselves in our shoes, trying to heal and working to raise funds for the help that is desperately needed. Our crisis generated headlines and news reports, so we want to try and use that to help others who may not be so publicized. If we can help even one other survivor, some good will have come from this horrific, senseless crime.

We have also created a website (emilyjeansvoice.org) to help survivors and families learn from our experiences and hopefully avoid some pain. Thank you for helping in any way you can. Thank you for donating, advocating, supporting, and helping.

References:

Bibbo, J., Rodriguez, K. E., & O'Haire, M. E. (2019). Impact of Service Dogs on Family Members' Psychosocial Functioning. The American journal of occupational therapy: official publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association, 73(3), 7303205120p1–7303205120p11. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2019.031690 

Jacobson, R. (2015). Service dogs for sexual-assault survivors. The Atlantic. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/service-dogs-for-sexual-assault-survivors/382560/ 

Leonard, J., & Legg, T. J. (2018, August 15). Service dogs for anxiety: Everything you need to know. Medical News Today. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322784

 

 

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