Community raises funds for seizure alert dog for Eli Formby

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, September 5, 2017

After a Picayune boy suffered a seizure last month and almost died of drowning, the community is raising funds for a seizure alert dog.
Mark and Rita Formby’s 9-year-old son is epileptic and requires constant supervision.
But with the help of a seizure alert dog, an adult could be notified before a seizure occurs, providing time to get Eli to a safe space, Mary Jo Perry, a friend of the family and organizer of the fundraiser, said.
Two of these incidents have threatened Eli’s life, Perry said. So, having a service dog will help take some of the burden off the family.
Mark Formby said the family has considered a service dog in the past, but due to the expense, they never pursued it.
After Eli’s latest accident, the community was supportive and expressed a desire to help, she said.
“I saw the opportunity to do something for them,” Perry said.
Perry established a YouCaring fundraising page for Eli, hoping to raise $30,000.
“We are sort of watching like spectators; we’re extremely blessed by the fact that this group would take up arms for Eli,” Mark Formby said. “He’s touched a lot of hearts in his life, specifically in the last four weeks as he literally faced death.”
Seizure dogs can detect a seizure up to 30 minutes before it occurs, she said. The dog alerts the family by barking, whining, or staring intently. During the seizure, some dogs can get under a person’s head, roll them over or even lick their face to clean their airways. They can even retrieve a cellphone or activate an alarm, Perry said.
“I really think that it would make their lives just a little bit easier,” she said.
Because Eli is 9-years-old, he’s getting bigger and harder to carry, Perry said.
“We’re currently in a situation where he cannot be left alone, period,” Mark Formby said.
But a service dog would be able to shadow Eli 24/7, possibly even allowing Eli to sleep in his own room for the first time in years.
Even if the service dog didn’t detect the seizure prior to it occurring, Mark Formby said the dog being able to notify someone that Eli is having a seizure would be beneficial.
“I just keep thinking of the scripture that says to bear one another’s burdens,” Perry said. “There’s a large Christian community behind them.”
The fundraising page can be found at
Mark Formby said he never expected the community to do this for his family, but together they decided they would leave it in their hands and consider anything that happens a blessing.
“Eli is back because of God’s will; we will be anxious to see how this blessing plays out,” he said.

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About Julia Arenstam

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