(KUTV) — 4Gold Service & Rescue is helping community members in northern Utah get greater access to service dogs.
They provide service dogs and scholarships for training to people with special medical or ability needs.
"They can use that scholarship with any credentialed trainer near where they live," explained Tamara Forsyth, interim executive director.
4Gold Service & Rescue knows getting a service dog and training can be very expensive.
"I've seen $15,000, $30,000 depending on what they need to know and how long it takes to train them," said Forsyth.
The group awarded its first two dogs and scholarships last fall. They hope to double it this year.
"In 2021, we are focusing on diabetes alert dogs," said Forsyth.
Anna Turner was one of the recipients last year and was paired with her dog, Vixen.
"I currently have been diagnosed with nine different illness," Turner said.
One of those illnesses is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that causes her joints to dislocate. She also faints a lot.
"Vixen is being trained to alert prior to me falling, to help me get to a chair or a safe area to lay down," said Turner.
Vixen is also learning pressure therapy and specific tasks to help Turner manage her day-to-day life.
Raelene Penman, who owns Underworld Kennels and Dog Training, is teaching them the training techniques.
"I help them communicate; because if your dog doesn't understand what you want it to do, how can it be good in doing what you're asking?" Penman said.
She has been impressed with the progress the pair has made.
"Everything I've challenged her to do with Vixen, she has just met and exceeded it," said Penman.
Turner says her life has vastly improved. She's been able to get off some medications and go back to school.
"I'm able to take my classes, go to the store--things that people maybe take for granted," she said.
The other service dog, Rose, was matched with a family to become a seizure detection dog for two of its members.
The recipients applied for the help and were reviewed and chosen by a committee.
The dogs were raised and trained by Forsyth. She hopes more people will help by becoming "puppy raisers," and take the dogs through basic obedience training before they're matched with a recipient.
They would have the dogs for 10-12 months for training. The nonprofit also hopes to use rescue dogs as service animals.
Mountain America Credit Union donated $500 to help 4Gold Service & Rescue with scholarships.
If you would like to donate or help out, visit the 4Gold Service & Rescue Facebook page or website.