HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, N.J. (FOX 5 NY) - Marybeth Barrios and Walley are tied at the hip. But it's not just companionship that brought these two together. Marybeth, 12, has severe epilepsy.
She has spent a decade of her life in and out of the hospital and suffers from three to four seizures a day every day. Everything from going to sleep at night or getting to school in the morning was a battle.
Marybeth's mom, Tricia, was at the end of her rope. She was desperate to make life better for her little girl.
Then she read about therapy dogs.
"In all the research, we discovered that they have these dogs that actually can change these children's lives with epilepsy," Tricia said. "We happen to come across Little Angels Service Dogs online."
Specially trained seizure dogs can comfort patients after a seizure. But they can also predict seizures and, you could say, prevent them by reducing stress, often a trigger for seizures.
The only problem? The dogs aren't cheap. They cost around $20,000, which the barrios simply couldn't afford.
Hasbrouck Heights Police Chief Michael Colinari and Captain Joe Rinke caught wind of the Barrios' situation. They got the community together and threw a pasta dinner. Several restaurants donated the food and others in the town helped out. They raised all $20,000 that would finally give Marybeth a fighting chance at a normal life.
She and Tricia said that having Walley has changed their lives.
It is important to note that only anecdotal evidence shows that dogs can actually predict seizures. But some experts think that the dogs can pick up on a certain smell and alert to the seizure.
Training the dogs takes about three to four years.