While I worked to regain stability in my life, my service dog, Mati has been fostered by Stephanie Vohs, with the agreement that Stephanie would give Mati back to me once I was ready. But now, she refuses to relinquish Mati, and has stated that she has plans to keep Mati forever.
Will you sign this petition to help me get my baby back?
While attending veterinary school at Iowa State University, I adopted my Mati from a shelter in California in 2015, as a companion, and not as a service dog prospect. We instantly bonded, and it was a bond unlike any other I had experienced with a dog; it was like we were meant to be. She was a Malinois with separation anxiety and no formal training. Mati’s strong and immediate attachment to me magnified her separation anxiety. The day that I adopted her, I left her in my room to use the bathroom. In those two minutes, she scaled my dresser and brought down my shot glass collection. Suffice it to say, Mati and I had our work cut out for us. We invested many, many hours training in obedience and behavior modification. We established a routine of training and exercising. I trained her in agility. As a Malinois, she needed a job, so I gave her a job of helping me at home with my disabilities. Attending veterinary school while living with Fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, and [undiagnosed] Ehler's Danlos Syndrome (EDS) was difficult, but I did the best I could. Mati was eager to help me and learned quickly, so I kept finding more things with which she could help me. Mati really helped mitigate my disabilities, and improved my quality of life at home. I began training her in public as my service dog in training. She even passed her public access test, administered by another trainer. We were a dream team; it was like she had been made to be my service dog. She began attending classes with me. I would never have been able to graduate veterinary school without her. My diploma belongs to her as much as it belongs to me.
More recently, Mati needed a break from service. I acquired new health issues, which have been diagnosed as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), gastroparesis, and dysautonomia-related GI issues. I was constantly dizzy, nauseous, and seeing black. I spent most of my time on the floor, in bed, or wherever I had fallen. I was in and out of the hospital. I did not have a stable living arrangement and needed to find somewhere to stay. Letting Mati, my dog soulmate, stay with someone else was almost unbearable. It was the hardest decision I had ever made, but I thought I was doing right by her when I arranged for Mati to stay in a foster home with Stephanie in Plainville, KS, whom I met through a rescue contact. We had an informal agreement that Stephanie would give her back to me when I was ready. I never expected for her to steal my once-in-a-lifetime dog.
A transport was set up at the beginning of the summer to bring Mati back to me, but it fell through. I set up another transport with Blue Collar Pet Transport, but Stephanie cancelled it. The employee that notified me said it was noted that Stephanie had said I would never have Mati because I abused her. Stephanie changed her story several times, even at one point telling me that I needed to retrieve Mati myself, because if I really love Mati, I would drive 15 hours to get her. If I could’ve safely made the trip to Plainville, KS one my own to pick up Mati and bring her home, I would’ve in a heartbeat. Traveling is difficult for me because of my health conditions as well as my having a central line (permanent IV catheter in my chest). Stephanie has since refused to relinquish Mati back to me unless I take her to court. This whole ordeal has been absolutely devastating. Please consider signing this petition to help me get my baby back.