Graduate Profile: Jason Wilkie and Guide Dog Baity
Yesterday saw another nine graduates of Southeastern Guide Dogs head out into the world with their guides at their sides. This is just one of their stories.
Jason Wilkie of St. Petersburg, Florida came to Southeastern Guide Dogs in July for his first guide. As his vision deteriorated from neurofibromitosis, he knew it was time to do something that would allow him to make his way around.
Jason was matched with a handsome yellow Lab, who also carries an important name. In January/February 2011, the St. Petersburg Police Department lost three of their officers to acts of violence. Sergeant Thomas J. Baitinger and K-9 Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz were gunned down when they responded to a call for back-up units during an attempted apprehension of a suspect by the U.S. Marshals Service. Officer David Crawford lost his life allegedly at the hands of a sixteen-year-old who was out to steal a car.
As a way of honoring these brave civil servants, Southeastern Guide Dogs named three pups “Yaz,” “Crawford,” and “Baity.” Yaz was career-changed early in his training, but both Crawford and Baity are now full-fledged working guide dogs.
Of his new guide, Jason says Baity seems to have all the characteristics of the typical Lab, he is rambunctious, smart, lazy, loveable and always curious.
Now that Jason has Baity he is most looking forward to going more places in life.
“There are a lot of things I want to do, some things were holding me back, but now Baity will remove all of the hindrances and give me my freedom,” he said
We imagine Sergeant Baitinger would be very proud that this pup, named in his honor is now helping someone reach their potential.