Local News

Paws for Cause Puts Pets in Unusual Places

Posted May 21, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— There is some good news for disabled North Carolinians. The organization known as "Paws with a Cause" has put its first service dog to work in the state and the dog is working right here in the Triangle.

It's not every day you see a dog pulling a wheelchair through the halls of a high school, but then again this is no ordinary dog. Dickens is a working pup. He helps Becky Bennis live the life of a normal 17-year-old. She has Juvenile Rhumatoid Arthritis and she says Dickens has made some big changes in her life.

Dickens does more than just pull Becky to and from class. He's there to pick up her keys when she drops them or to help her take off her coat when it gets too warm. Dog Trainer Jan Santel says taking care of Becky is Dickens' job.

It's a tough job that affords Dickens little rest, except during classroom lectures when he manages to catch a little shut-eye. Santel says dogs such as Dickens are highly trained so that they are welcome anywhere.

Bennis says Dickens' training pays off at home as well as in school.

Reaching for independence and dignity is what this partnership is about. A teenager puts her trust and faith in an animal that's trained to never let her down.

Bennis says it's worth it.

"Paws with a Cause" is a national group that trains service dogs. It costs 25-thousand dollars to train just one dog. Right now, there's a waiting list for people who want dogs in North Carolina.

WRAL's Betsy Sykes reporting