19 people with disabilities get service dogs thanks to Minnesota nonprofit

Without the help of a service animal, Twin Cities teacher Allie Brown says she’d likely be unable to live alone because of a medical condition. But this weekend, Can Do Canines stepped in to help her and 19 other people in need.

The organization relies on donations to breed and train service animals for people with disabilities, matching more than 800 assistance dogs with those in need over the last few decades.

Brown was one of the lucky few this weekend, taking home assistance dog "Finley," after a nearly year-long wait as she battles a connective tissue disorder.

"I’m just overwhelmed, I’ve cried twice already," Brown said. "There was a lot of concern about what my life would look like if I didn’t get this help, and now that I have Finley, I know that I’m going to live a healthier and more independent life."

Can Do Canines is in the business of providing that stability — at a cost of about $45,000 per dog, which they cover entirely.

"This is what we’re here for, to match up people and then send them on their way," executive director and former state representative Jeff Johnson told FOX 9.

The dogs are matched with a range of people and ready for whatever is expected from them every spring, summer and fall. For Johnson, it’s all about bringing peace of mind, independence, and gentle companionship to each family.

"There’s a lot of excitement and emotion in the room because we know how these dogs will change people’s lives," he said.