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When Sherry Mers’ daughter Riley was five-months-old she was
diagnosed with a life threatening peanut allergy.
Like most parents who have children with such severe allergies
Mers and her husband found themselves doing everything they could
to protect their daughter from something that could take her
One day Mers said she was watching a television program about
“I thought if a dog can do that why can’t a dog detect peanuts
and things and warn us of those dangers.”
Mers said she had worked with the blind when she was in college
and was familiar with service dogs and soon she was researching
different allergy-friendly dogs, scent-dog trainers and service-dog
After years of researching, Angel Service Dogs was born.
Angel Service Dogs provide allergy-alert dogs (sometimes called
peanut dogs) to families and individuals who have life-threatening
anaphylactic allergies. The dogs don’t just detect peanuts, either.
They can also detect eggs, milk, wheat, soy and tree nuts.
The Monument based company is a non-profit organization and
since it’s inception a year-and-a-half ago they have placed their
service dogs with nine families. They will be placing five more
dogs in October.
“We have placed dogs from Maine to Oregon,” Mers said.
An Angel Service Dog makes sure the environment is safe before
kids go in. This can pertain to schools, churches, playgrounds,
amusement parks and other public places. The dogs make it possible
for kids with life-threatening allergies to live a somewhat normal
Because of her service dog Rock O’Riley is able to attend school
part-time in contained classes.
Angel Service Dogs are allergy-friendly dogs such as Portuguese
Water Dogs, Australian Labradoodles, German Shorthair Retrievers
and occasionally Golden Retrievers and Labradors.
The dogs are carefully bred, selected and tested. They are even
screened for health issues, temperament and characteristics to
ensure they are the right service dog and companion for the
All dogs are trained by master scent trainers and master
handlers in accordance with the American with Disabilities Act. All
trainers have extensive backgrounds in training. The program was
developed by animal behaviorists, allergists and master
Families receiving these dogs must go through a two-week
training period. During this time they get to know the dog and
learn dog CPR.
Mers said it takes about a year from the time individuals and
families start the application process to when they actually
receive the dog. During this time they are raising funds to get the
The service dog costs approximately $20,000. The cost goes to
cover such expenses as the cost and training of the dog, their
two-week stay and travel arrangements.
“The money does not go to Angel Service Dogs,” Mers added.
Angel Service Dogs has been featured in USA Today, People
Magazine, MSNBC, the Today Show, Fox News, Scholastic News, and
“This is the first time the parents have hope for this
[anaphylactic allergies] situation,” Mers said.
Mers also added that the organization is currently looking for
local people to become puppy raisers. They currently get their dogs
from Oregon but would like to find people in the area that can
provide a safe, healthy and caring environment for the dogs and
teach them basic skills.
For more information about the organization, visit www.angelservicedogs.com.
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