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Brain Injury Survivor Web Site of the Month

Thanks to the Northeast Center for Special Care for alerting us to their web site of the month.  This month they feature a web site entitled Canine and Abled created by brain injury survivor Kimberly Carnevale.

Ten years ago Kimberly Carnevale was an accomplished professional equestrian and an Olympic hopeful.  She was competing on the prestigious Grand Prix Show jumping circuit and was vying for a position on the United State Equestrian Team.  Things were bright in Kimberly's life until a motor vehicle accident brought her dreams to a halt.  The accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury, multiple injuries and seizures.

A brain injury is a dramatic, life-changing event for anyone, as it was for Kimberly.  Her goal of competing as an equestrian and making the Olympic team were over.  There was, however, another life-changing event that happened about the same time.

Four years before her accident Kimberly rescued an eighteen-month old German Shepherd/St. Bernard mix pup that was about to be put asleep.  "Dewey," came home and became a part of Kimberly's family.  She had no idea at the time the role Dewey would play in her life.

After her accident Kimberly discovered that when she was about to have a seizure, Dewey was able to detect the impending seizure and alert her.  During and after her seizures, Dewey remained close to her side as a comfort.  Dewey had the ability to be a seizure-alert dog.  Dogs with this ability can alert and/or assist individuals during a seizure.

After viewing a program about service dogs on the cable network Animal Planet, Kimberly enrolled Dewey in service dog training and he became a certified service dog.  After his training Dewey was able to do more than only alerting Kimberly to impending seizures and maintain a comforting presence, he also pulled her wheelchair, retrieved items and assisted in helping her relearn to walk again.

There were other events that would also change Kimberly's life.  After becoming a certified service dog, and despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, Kimberly was denied access to some public areas with Dewey.  Access denial for individuals and their service dogs sadly remains too common. 

After reading disability discrimination posts at the northeast center news feed about individuals with disabilities being denied access to retail stores, restaurants, and even schools because of having their service dog with them, Kimberly was motivated to establish an organization and website dedicated to the education and awareness of service dogs.

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