July 3, 2013
Aimee Copeland: Woman Who Lost Limbs To Flesh-Eating Bacteria Gets Service Labradoodle

Aimee Copeland lost her hands, feet, and right leg to a flesh-eating bacteria but now has a new best friend to help her out.

The 25-year-old just got a black labradoodle named Belle, a service dog who will help Aimee get up when she falls, pick up items, and even deliver medications on time. Belle, a one-year-old dog, has been training for the job since she was three months old.

Aimee Copeland met Belle for the first time this weekend, though the dog still has a bit more training before she will become a full-time service dog. But already Aimee is smitten with her new companion.

"I'm just loving her and so excited to have that new addition and that new help," Copeland told ABC affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Belle was a careful fit for Copeland. Though the woman is allergic to most dogs, Belle is hypoallergenic.

"Labradoodles are much more allergy-friendly dogs," said Crystal Callahan, owner of the Psychiatric Service Dog Academy and Registry in Cocoa, Florida, where Belle was trained."That's what took so long to find the right dog, a hypoallergenic dog with the right temperament and a working dog."

Aimee Copeland made national news in April 2012 when she cut open her right leg falling from a zip line near the Tallapoosa River in Georgia. Though doctors were able to treat the wound, it became infected with a deadly bacterium. Within days her wound turned purple, and Aimee began experiencing other strange symptoms.

"I wasn't able to walk," Aimee told Katie Couric last year. "I wasn't able to speak. The only thing I was able to babble was, 'I think I'm dying.' "

When the dog finally does join Aimee Copeland, the young woman may want to teach it to retrieve her books. Aimee said she still plans to finish her master's degree in psychology.