A friend of mine brought my attention to this article and I thought it was important that I share it with all you also.  I’ve never had issues with food allergies, nor known anyone to suffer from severe food allergies, and when I read this article it almost brought me to tears.  The fact that dogs can be trained for yet another way of alerting humans to medical conditions is truly amazing.

July 22, 2009

The Cygan family of Orland Park and the Van Horn family of Lockport had never met before and never knew about each other.

One thing brought them together — their sons both have severe food allergies and are in need of an allergy detection dog for their sons to live a normal childhood.

These two families have come together to organize a benefit for Angel Service Dogs 4 Kids, from 1 to 6 p.m. Aug. 23 at 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park, with the purpose of raising money for Chase and Chris to receive a service dog specifically trained for each boy’s food allergies.

Angel Service Dogs 4 Kids is partnered with Angel Service Dogs, an Internal Revenue Service-designated 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. More information regarding the benefit is available by visiting The boys will receive their dogs from Angel Service Dogs in Colorado Springs, Colo. Each dog has an approximate cost of $15,000. After training, the dog will wear a vest and carry Epi pens and Benadryl for the boys, be able to sweep areas to make sure they are safe, do not contain the allergens that each boy is allergic to, and serve as a life-saver to Chase and Chris.

Food allergies cause many emergency room visits each year for families plagued with this disability. Food allergies cause families to live different lives than families that are not affected by food allergies.

A safe snack must be provided at school every day for a child affected by food allergies. The safe snack also should be similar to what the rest of the children have, so that the child with allergies feels included.

Children with food allergies do not leave their homes without their Epi pen and Benadryl. An allergy detection dog is the only source for providing these children affected by food allergies the possibility of leading a normal childhood.

Allergy detection dogs are considered “service dogs” and are trained just like drug and bomb dogs, only to detect the scent of foods.

Christopher Van Horn is a happy, active 2-year-old with a severe allergy to dairy and peanuts and most recently diagnosed with allergies to beef, pork, apples, carrots, squash and green beans. He was diagnosed with his dairy allergy when he was 6 weeks old after many hospitalizations for breathing difficulty.

He has experienced severe allergic reactions from eating, drinking or touching products or surfaces containing dairy or contaminated with dairy. Any contact with even the slightest trace of dairy can cause him to have a life-threatening allergic reaction; this includes surfaces such as playground equipment, shopping carts and tabletops.

Christopher carries an Epi-pen and Benadryl at all times because of the risk of anaphylaxis or death from accidental contact or ingestion. He has been unable to attend many events, family functions and other activities because of his allergy and the risk involved with being outside of his home.

Chase Cygan is a sweet, very active 4-year-old with severe food allergies to milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat. Chase was diagnosed with his milk, egg, and soy allergies at 2 months old after being hospitalized for four days at Hope Children’s Hospital.

He carries an Epi-pen with him at all times because of the risk of anaphylactic shock if he accidentally ingests any of the above allergens. Chase has been hospitalized three times since first being diagnosed.

For more information on the benefit, contact Candace Van Horn at 815-838-2460 or by e-mail at for further information.

The Homer-Sun

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