SANDPOINT — Bill Yeager, a disabled Sandpoint veteran, is getting a second chance at a service dog next week after the last one was taken back by the company because of unrestrained dogs in the neighborhood.
The dog will arrive on Sunday and Cecelia Myers, who has been advocating for Yeager to obtain a service animal, wants to let the public know they will be out walking so a repeat of the previous situation doesn't happen.
"I'm just trying to do what I can to let the public know that his dog will be here, so just ignore him," Myers said, adding that, by law, people are required to keep their dogs on a leash.
The trainer told Myers it is important that the public, if they see Yeager walking with the service dog, not to make contact — not even eye contact — with the animal during the training process.
Yeager lost his eyesight and has difficulty communicating following a stroke, but still enjoys walking on a regular basis. In April 2016, a trainer brought a guide dog on a trial basis to join Yeager on his daily walks. Each day when Yeager, the dog and the trainer walked along Ridley Village Road toward the Sandpoint-Dover walking path, unrestrained dogs from neighboring homes charged at the trio. The trainer considered the loose dogs be a safety concern and took the dog back to California with him at the end of the trial period.
Myers said Yeager and the dog had become very close during their short time together, so it was devastating to him when the trainer took the dog away.
Sandpoint Police Chief Corey Coon and city administrator Jennifer Stapleton took action to enforce city leash laws after learning of Yeager's situation, which, along with help from Myers, allowed him this second chance at a K9 companion.
The trainer will stay in the area with the dog for 10 days to see how it goes. Myers said this company knows what happened with the previous service animal and agreed that not all situations are perfect, so there is high hope that it will work out. If not, Myers said it may be Yeager's last chance at a service animal.