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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 immunizations set to begin for age-based cohorts

Eligible seniors can book appointments through a call centre starting Monday, March 8.

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

National Lampoon creator Doug Kenney
Booknotes: The uproarious career of the ‘funniest man in the room’

Mike Selby discusses the life and times of National Lampoon creator Doug Kenny

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 in Ottawa. Doctors in Alberta have signed an open letter asking for prioritized vaccination of health-care staff who work directly with patients on dedicated COVID-19 units. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C.: Here’s how to sign up

Seniors 90+, Indigenous seniors 65+ and Indigenous Elders can book starting March 8

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read