Prison Pups Screening, Oct 21 in Belmont: Fundraiser for Hearing Impaired Cambridge Teacher

Many of you may recall that A-DOG sponsored a very successful screening of Prison Pups in April, 2008. Here’s another chance to see it and to support an excellent cause. And, please be so kind as to forward this information to everyone you think might be interested!

On Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 7 p.m. at the Belmont Studio Cinema, 376 Trapelo Road, Belmont, the Friends of Betty and Dexter will show the award-winning documentary, Prison Pups, to help raise funds so that Elizabeth Smith MacKenzie of Watertown may obtain a new hearing assistance dog.

MacKenzie, a special needs teacher with the Cambridge public schools, will get her hearing assistance dog from NEADS (the National Education for Assistance Dog Services) Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, the same organization that matched her with Dexter, her current hearing assistance dog. Dexter, who is ill, is over 12 years old and will retire soon.

MacKenzie explained that, “My dog works primarily for me, but also accompanies me to the classroom and sits for reading time, helps with counting and often comforts an upset child as needed. He has been an invaluable asset to the school room.”

NEADS, a Massachusetts non-profit, in 1976, pioneered the training of dogs to help people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, in the same manner as guide dogs assist the blind and people with limited vision. NEADS has now expanded its services to provide training for people with other disabilities also.

In 1998, NEADS began the Prison PUP Partnership in which inmates foster and train service dog puppies for the first year of the dogs’ training. The film, Prison Pups, tells the story of four inmates as they raise and train service dogs for the handicapped and hearing impaired at Concord Farm, Massachusetts, a minimum-security facility.

“Dexter, and before him, Chico,” MacKenzie said, “have been my ears for 25 years. They allow me to function independently at home, in the community and at work. They tell me the smoke alarm, teakettle, door knock, phone, etc. They do the same sounds at work, plus a different fire alarm. On the street they tell me if sirens are coming, and alert me to other environmental sounds that are above or below the sounds that my hearing aides can compensate for.”

She added: “My service dog allows independence in a way that gives me, a disabled person, control over my safety. Service dogs are more focused and reliable than any human companion. They are always available and willing to accompany me anywhere at any time.”

A donation of $25.00 for adults and $5.00 for students is requested for the screening. More information about NEADS may be viewed at http://www.neads. org/index. php.

Contributions for Betty may be made directly by going to:
http://www.neads. org/about_ us/client_ view.php? id=189

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