Psychiatric Service Dog for Kelly

Hi everyone! My name is Kelly Weiling Zou (she/her) and I'm a fourth year Commerce student at Queen's University.

If you know me, you know that I have struggled a lot with my mental health since I was young. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder in 2017, chronic depression in 2018, and borderline personality disorder in 2020. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is classified a long-term, chronic disability.  Though the symptoms vary in nature, the following excerpt from Harvard Medical School details the severity of this disorder.

"BPD is a particularly severe form of personality disorder, those affected often constitute a relatively large proportion of the patients in mental health treatment. It affects 1% to 2% of American adults, but roughly 10% of psychiatric outpatients and 15% to 20% of psychiatric inpatients. An astounding 69% to 80% of patients with BPD engage in suicidal behavior (including suicide attempts and life-threatening actions), and up to 9% of patients with BPD die by suicide."

Since 2018, my medical team has been advising me to consider the possibility of a psychiatric service dog. After much discussion with my occupational therapist, counsellor, doctor, and family, I am embarking on the extensive preparation that comes with owning a service dog. The current wait list for pre-trained service dogs is 2 to 3 years in Canada, with a $20,000 to $30,000 price tag. Based on my financial circumstances and severity of my disability, I was recommended by professionals to consider the alternative of training my own service dog. This too, is an expensive process, as I am expected to invest approximately $20,000 into healthcare and training over the first two years.

I am very lucky and grateful to have been connected with a reputable and certified breeder that has experience working with service dogs in the past (I wanted to adopt, but was advised against it due to inexperience and potential difficulties training). I drove 9 hours in a day to visit the breeder and his puppies (pictured above), and am happy to say that I passed his interview process! I am currently on his waiting list, which is approximately 6 months to a year.

During this time, I want to ensure that I am financially equipped so that I can properly prioritize the medical well-being and training of this dog. My savings fund - which was originally allocated towards my tuition - has since been redirected to pay for the expenses of my future service dog. This is due to the severity of my disability and its direct impact on my daily life. I will be continuing to work throughout the year and saving money, but would also greatly appreciate your support in any way you find suitable. I would be happy with donations of $1. Please know that anything you give will be directly allocated towards this important aspect of my healthcare plan and will be deeply appreciated.

As always, I am immensely grateful for my community's ongoing support. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!


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Kelly Weiling Zou 
Kingston, ON
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