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Local Woman Crowdfunding Patent of Assistive Dog Ramp System to Help Visually Impaired Pets
This was the question that Andrea Hollis, of Brookville, ran into several years ago when Alli – her beloved boxer, lab, pit bull mix – was diagnosed with glaucoma.
Hollis told exploreClarion.com that the glaucoma was not the first health issue her cherished companion has experienced. Alli had already undergone surgery on her knees and was unable to jump high enough to get into Hollis’s vehicle or her bed. Hollis originally purchased ramps and steps to aid her, as she was too large to easily be lifted, but Alli was unable to manage them once she began losing her sight.
“At one point, she actually fell off the side of her ramp when I was trying to correct her from going over the side,” Hollis explained.
“She had become frightened and unsure when she lost her vision, and she also lost some of her ability to do things independently.”
Alli’s struggle inspired Hollis to help her gain back some of her independence and confidence, and she began working on various things to help Alli move around safely. One of those projects, an assistive dog ramp/step system for blind/visually-impaired dogs, has now taken on a life of its own.
Hollis began working on the system in December of 2017. She noted that once she created a version of her design, Alli took to it immediately.
“She had no more accidents, was happy, confident, and safe,” Hollis noted.
“Because I couldn’t find anything like this on the market, I took my design idea to a patent attorney to determine if it could be patented and marketed for others in our position.”
That first step has taken her on a new journey to make her design available to other pet owners struggling with dogs with vision issues. The project is currently in patent pending status as she attempts to crowd-fund the remainder of the patent process.
“My goal is to see this guide system that secures to pet ramps, collapsible pet steps, or stationary steps available for sale to blind, visually impaired, or elderly pets (who usually have some vision loss) that would benefit from it,” Hollis said.
“It made such a difference for Alli, and if something like this would’ve been available, I would’ve bought it immediately to help her.”
To help fund the patent process, Hollis has set up a GoFundMe campaign, and says that if she raises more than needed for her project, any additional funds will be donated to Gateway Humane Society, where Alli was adopted from, and to Tri-County Animal Rescue Center, where Zoey, a pit bull, and one of her cats, Mojo, were adopted.
“If everyone donated, even just a bit, we could have the design patented and available on the market for everyone.”
A 2002 graduate of Brookville High School, Hollis went on to graduate from Clarion University with a degree in special education in 2007 and then completed an online Master’s Degree from Slippery Rock in 2010. She spent a number of years working as an Autism Support/Life Skills teacher before leaving her position to stay at home with her two children and pets.
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