Service Dog Will Receive Stem Cell Procedure

By Suzy Wiesenhart

The KIM Program is a non-profit 501c3 with a unique mission: Through mobile, in-home veterinary care, support is provided to disabled Americans, homebound elderly and American veterans who depend on an assistance animal to live active, productive lives. The KIM Program’s objectives are prioritized to help these assistance animals stay active and “in motion” by providing wellness care and therapeutic techniques, prolonging their ability to serve the individuals who rely on them.

Dr. Joyce Gerardi, DVM, from Valrico, founded KIM and was inspired by her niece, Kimberly Clarke, who fell off a horse in 1997, broke her neck and lives as a quadriplegic. Kim relies on her service dog, Dugan, daily to stay safe and active.

Now Dugan is the one who needs help. He has severe degenerative arthritis.

Dr. Gerardi offered a treatment to help Dugan. Kim and her family hope the two- hour regenerative stem cell procedure will make Dugan more comfortable and help him live longer. He will travel from North Carolina to Valrico for the treatment.

Dr. Gerardi’s dream was actually inspired by the needs of two people; the second person is a blind and deaf man, who depends on his Seeing-Eye dog just to walk out of his house. Both individuals desperately approached her seeking veterinary care for their service dogs. Many disabled people do not have sufficient funds to pay for general wellness veterinary care; however, without it, each individual would NOT be able to participate in an active lifestyle.

You might remember a previous feature, naming KIM as a finalist in the 2012 National Veterinary Inspiration in Action Contest. KIM did win the $25,000 and was able to purchase a 24’ Sprinter Veterinary vehicle. KIM was competing with organizations servicing the Southeastern U.S. which certify, train and place these special animals with the appropriate disabled person.

The treatment, likely about $1,800, will be done June 20 in Florida and is paid for through “Kindred-Canine” donations. Kim is still seeking donations for travel expenses. To learn more about this program and its needs, please contact Dr. Gerardi at jgpet dr@verizon.net or visit www.kindred- caninesinmotion.org.