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Service Paws of Central Pennsylvania

Service Paws of Central Pennsylvania is a non-profit organization serving the area to help finance service dogs to those who need them, and are hoping to reach more individuals in the local area.

SPCP serves the area of Clearfield, Jefferson, Indiana, Centre Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon, Clinton, Fayette, Mifflin, Westmoreland, and Somerset counties. They are specifically hoping to reach more people near the Clearfield/Jefferson area, both to help with obtaining service dogs, and to serve on their board.

SPCP was founded by Leslie Kelly in 2011. Kelly became hard of hearing from a head injury, then totally deaf at 34 years old. This led her to getting her first hearing dog, after which she started giving presentations in her community about service dogs and their importance to those with a disability.

When it was time for Kelly to get a new service dog, she had to raise $5,000 to get one, and turned to her community for help. She received so much support, even after she raised enough for her dog, Nokie, that she founded SPCP.

Joseph Fagnani is a charter member and current chairperson of SPCP, and owns a service dog himself, and has since 1963. He is originally from New York, and moved to Blair County following his retirement. He has been an advocate for blindness-related issues for 50 years, and was involved in drafting the first New York state dog guide legislation. His volunteer work led him to Kelly and SPCP.

“We help finance people with service dogs. They can cost anywhere from $400 to $3,500 and they (owners) have to come up with that out of pocket,” Fagnani said. “There are three good accredited service schools in PA that people fill out applications with. Once they fill out an application and get a cost back from the school, the person can apply with the organization for assistance, and it will pay directly to the school to help with the cost.”

Last year the organization sponsored six service dogs, and have a couple of people in the application stage this year.

“We spend 96 percent of the money we bring in on helping people. All of us are volunteers, and we try to do all we can to keep our expenses low,”

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