DogFest Cleveland uniting special needs people with loving, helpful companions

DogFest Cleveland gearing up to raise thousands for service dogs
Updated: Sep. 19, 2017 at 9:47 PM EDT
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MEDINA, OH (WOIO) - Seventeen-year-old Addie Wisniewski is a vibrant girl whose smile lights up the room.

The Medina teen relies on Hattie, a 4-year-old service dog, to help her with everyday activities that many of us take for granted.

Addie was born with a condition known as brittle bones, making it challenging for her to get around.

"There are definitely some challenges. This past year, I had about five surgeries in a span of nine months. I missed most of the school year and that was tough," explained Wisniewski.

Hattie is a part of Canine Companions for Independence, a national nonprofit organization that trains Labradors and Golden Retrievers to help people with emotional, developmental or physical disabilities. Dogs are given to recipients like Addie free of charge.

The estimated cost per dog is $50,000.

Emily Cirka, 35, was born with Muscular Dystrophy. She says her service dog Dash helps when others seem intimidated by her physical issues, and may be afraid to approach her.

"But, once they begin to talk to me about Dash they realize you know that I'm an adult. I have a lot to say and that Dash is just here to help me," said Emily Cirka.

Emily and Addie will be among the hundreds taking part in the DogFest Cleveland walk this Sunday in Medina. The event helps raise money and awareness to make it possible for these talented canines to help those in need. Something that brings more than just a smile to their faces.

"It's just amazing the things that they do for you. I never knew that i was missing until I had my dog," said Wisniewski.

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