By Meg Dickens
Four-year-old Kourtnee Dawne Peters is a cheerful child. She loves horses, cats, and dogs. She loves to learn about cooking and cannot choose a favorite color because she loves them all. To use her own words, “I’m sweet!” Unfortunately, this little angel has a difficult life. Peters struggles with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH) and autism. She deals with sensory overload, social anxiety, communication issues, motor difficulties, and noise sensitivity daily. The ONH is continuously worsening Peters’ eyesight to the point where she is nearly blind.
Peters’ family quickly realized that a canine companion would improve her life. The major hurdle in the way is cost. Peters needs a service animal with multiple specialties. A dog with this amount of training costs approximately $25,000. This fee includes all of its training and a Session with Kourtnee. They have raised about $12,500 so far. It is a good start, but they are still only halfway there.
“For her, this will make life a lot better. We want to try and make her life more comfortable,” said Peters’ great uncle David Torbett when asked about the service dog plan. “We can make it where she is not so scared in life.”
The Peters family has not told Kourtnee about their plan to get her a service dog. Any mention of the plan has the family spelling out D-O-G. They do not want to get her hopes up prematurely. The Peters’ family asks the community to offer any support it can for this little girl. Kourtnee Dawne Peters is a friendly little girl who tries her best to help others. Hopefully, she will have a furry friend to help keep her calm, safe, and happy in the near future.
The family has hosted a yard sale, spaghetti dinner, bass tournament, a benefit through Freddy’s in Johnson City, and a soup bean dinner to fundraise. Keep an eye out for further fundraisers. Interested parties can donate on the Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers (SDWR) page at sdwr.donordrive.com. Look for Kourtnee’s Paws of Hope campaign.