ROELAND PARK, Kan. - Masha Lesslie took Frankie, a 15-month-old white Labrador retriever, through an obstacle course on the ground floor of her school. Masha is one of eight students at Horizon Academy taking part in an after-school program in which they learn to train dogs to help disabled people.
The dogs come from a kennel run by Paws for Freedom. It's a non-profit group dedicated to providing service dogs for the disabled. The group's director, Lea Ann Shearer, is in charge of the program at Horizon. As that program enters its seventh year Shearer is concerned about raising enough money so it can continue.
She says the program has reduced wait times for people wanting service dogs while boosting the students' self esteem. But another member of the group says the money they take in from sales of the canine companions doesn't come close to covering the cost to train them.
To that end Paws for Freedom is holding a fundraiser on Oct. 16. More information can be found at www.pawsforfreedom.org .