National Service Dogs fundraiser held by Kingston police
Kingston police converted their underground garage into a Christmas version of a shopping mall on Saturday, Nov. 17.
More than 50 vendors were at the first holiday market — dubbed “Vern’s Holiday Market,” after the police force’s service dog Vern. The market was organized by Sgt. Melanie Jefferies and civilian Kingston police employee Jen Richardson.
They set up the market to raise money for National Service Dogs.
National Service Dogs trains the K-9s to work with individuals like veterans and first responders who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The dogs also work with people with autism.
Jefferies says she wanted to help the organization after National Service Dogs gave the police force a facility dog three years ago at no cost.
Vern, Kingston police only police therapy dog, is used by police in the sexual assault unit.
“People are anxious when they come for an interview. When they’re talking about trauma, dogs can bring your blood pressure down just petting the dog, so we can get better evidence sometimes in an interview, especially with children.”
Fully training a service dog takes about 18 months at a cost between $15,000 and $30,000.
To begin that training a puppy can be sponsored for $1,500.
Between vendor fees and raffle money, Richardson says they hope to be able to sponsor two puppies.
“Right now we know for certain that we’ve raised enough to sponsor two puppies, so anything above and beyond that is extra and national service dogs can decide where they would benefit from the money most.”
It’s help National Service Dogs and their clients need. Jefferies says there is a lengthy waiting list for service dogs.
“Usually it’s about a two-year wait for a dog.”
Both women say they hope to make the holiday market an annual event.
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