Service dogs donated to Montgomery children

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Dogs have long been said to be man's best friend, and nowhere was that truth more evident than today at a Montgomery hotel conference room.

Three dogs for three people coping and living with physical challenges. During the 'K-9s 4 Kids' ceremony there were proud moments, and emotional ones, too.

"I love her," said 22-year old Kayla Williams. Three young people welcomed their three four-legged friends to be their companion through thick and thin.

Kayla suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car wreck 3 years ago. Kayla and 'Libby,' a 50-pound Labradoodle, now belong together. It will be up to Libby to guide Kayla, and if Kayla were to fall, Libby is trained to bark and get help.

"She will be there for me and help me," Kayla said.

It's an answer to prayer for Kayla's mom Sharon Lockhart. "It's amazing how many people care for those with difficult challenges," Lockhart explained.

Madison Guy suffers from seizures. Madison says 'Buckmaster' completes her life. "I just love dogs," she says.

Service dogs like these are either rescued from a local shelter or donated. Training them doesn't come cheap. "It costs anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000 a year per dog," said Frances McGowin, head of the 'K-9s 4 Kids group.

Libby, Buckmaster and Jake's former home was in Florida. "They were trained in a women's prison and then they came to us for socialization," said trainer Stacy Manning.

Before K-9s 4 Kids awarded the dogs to the families, people like Kayla and Madion spent the last two days bonding with their dogs. The dogs were given free of charge.

Dogs like Libby, Buckmaster and Jake typically remain with families for about 5 to 7 years and then they become pets. But it was clear from today's presentation the animals have already become far more than service dogs.

The new owners see them as friends for life.

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