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

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.
MP Morrison calls Keystone XL permit cancellation ‘devastating news’

Kootenay-Columbia MP reacts to the Conservative Party’s removal of a controversial Ontario MP

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

North-West Mounted Police barracks at the top of Douglas Street hill, 1885. The man seated at the front was (Colonel Sam Steele. Revelstoke Museum and Archives photo 856)
Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Jan. 21

130 years ago: Kootenay Star, Jan. 24, 1891 An accident occurred at… Continue reading

Liam Harrap, reporter for the Revelstoke Review, gives a sneak peak on what’s making news in Revelstoke. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)
A sneak peak at the Jan. 21 news paper

Pick up your copy on news stands today

Voting is the number one, bare minimum way to have your voice heard by government. (File photo)
Jocelyn’s Jottings: Want to make change? Here are some suggestions

As a citizen you have a voice, you just have to know who to talk to

Liam Harrap, reporter for the Revelstoke Review, gives a sneak peak on what’s making news in Revelstoke. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)
A sneak peak at the Jan. 21 news paper

Pick up your copy on news stands today

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Kevin Lee Barrett is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. (Facebook)
Court hears of victim’s injuries in West Kelowna attempted murder trial

Two-week-long trial continues for Kevin Barrett, accused of trying to kill mother in West Kelowna

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

A mother hold hands with her daughter while sharing about her struggles with addiction during Overdose Awareness Day. (Jesse Major/Black Press file)
Overdose and suicide support group starts in Penticton

Penticton was one of the province’s communities hardest hit by the overdose crisis in 2020

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The steel mills in the Hamilton waterfront harbour are shown in Hamilton, Ont., on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Dyer: Stay the course on Carbon pricing

Kristy Dyer has a background in art and physics and consulted for Silicon Valley

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Most Read