Dogs are commonly referred as man's best friend but for one local woman her best friend is keeping her safe.
Philadelphia resident Erin Orso has epilepsy and her seizures have worsened as she has aged. Service dogs have been instrumental to her everyday life for the last 13 years.
Now with her second dog, Mork, from Paws With A Cause (PAWS), Orso is less anxious than ever about her condition.
“The big thing is that [Mork] keeps me safe,” Orso said. “Whether I’m alone at home or out in public… he keeps me safe. He alleviates the anxiety of being alone and waiting for a seizure to hit. If a seizure happens, I’m not alone anymore.”
PAWS, the nation’s leading assistance dog program, is hosting a fundraiser called Ability Day on June 23 that will raise money to train more service animals in order to meet high demand. The fundraiser aims to raise $1 million in just 24 hours.
PAWS dogs are individually trained to meet the specific needs of their partners. In addition to existing clients requesting new dogs, the organization faces more than 2,000 new requests each year, and that number is growing.
Mork, like all PAWS dogs, is trained to respond to his partner in the event of a medical emergency. In Orso’s case, if she has a seizure, Mork will retrieve either Orso’s husband or, if Orso is alone, her Vagas Nerve Stimulator (VNS) magnet and lay next to her while she recovers.
“Mork is what I need. Just having him by my side helps me recover from seizures faster,” Orso said.
PAWS trains dogs to help people with physical disabilities, hearing problems, and seizure disorders. The organization also specializes in training service dogs for children with autism.
“Having a service dog has enabled me to be much more outgoing,” Orso said. “I’ve been able to explore the world. I didn’t think I’d be able to do that, but Mork has enabled me to do it.”