Epileptic Teen Gets Much-Needed Service Dog...Free of Charge

Rosa Zuna has waited three years for a canine companion to keep her safe during her seizures.

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teen pets dog in bookstore
California teenager Rosa Zuna meets her service dog. (Photo: ABC News)

After three years on Georgia-based Canine Assistants’ waiting list, Rosa Zuna, a 16-year-old epileptic from Pleasanton, California, has been awarded a specially trained dog, free of charge.

Canine Assistants, a nonprofit, has 1500 people on its waiting list to adopt a service dog, reports ABC News. For many people the cost of a service dog—up to $20,000 in some cases—makes the much-needed service an impossibility. Adopting from a nonprofit like Canine Assistants is the only way they can get the help they need. 

The assistance a dog provides to an epileptic can be crucial. Once, when Rosa had a seizure, she fell and blocked the door so her parents couldn’t get into the room to help her. “The next day I had super bruises,” said Rosa. She decided then to apply for a service dog to help control the seizures.

Lynn Engum, a Canine Assistants volunteer, explains the intuitive relationship between a person and their canine companion. 

“Once they bond with a person…in about 88 percent of the cases [the dog] will be able to predict when a person has a seizure. This is after they bond. Before they bond they will go get help, they might run in circles, they just know that something is not right.”

“[Having a dog] would make me feel more secure when I have my seizures,” said Rosa. “It would be nice to have someone there.”

Rosa will have to wait about a year and a half before she receives and trains the dog.