Service dogs can help a child with special needs to be independent. Parents would also feel at ease that they have a partner in taking care of their child.
However, not all parents of children with special needs can afford a service dog. One service dog can cost $15,000 -$30,000 depending on the breed and the kind of training the dog would undertake. Also, there is a long waitlist for a service dog.
One boy was lucky enough to have his service dog, thanks to the help of the community in Tennessee!
Mason Bowling’s family wanted to get him a service dog because they believed that the dog would help him with his daily living. Mason has a genetic chromosome disorder and autism.
However, the family didn’t have enough savings to get him a service dog. An autism service dog costs $25,000, so the family needs to think of ways to raise the required amount to get Mason a dog.
Danielle, Mason’s mom, said that the service dog would help Mason with his social skills. She believes that the service dog would help him calm down, and it would make him happier. The service dog would also serve as Mason’s best friend.
Besides, the service dog would also help Mason in emergencies, like when he gets lost.
Danielle created a Facebook group so that she could reach out to their community. The group also includes fundraising events, inviting everyone to join. The Facebook group tells about Mason’s progress.
Slowly, the community gets involved in the Bowling family’s efforts to raise the money for Mason’s service dog. Former professional basketball player Damon Johnson organized a special basketball tournament to reach the amount needed by the family. Damon Johnson also wanted to raise awareness about autism through this fundraising event.
With the help of the community, Mason’s family has enough money to get him a service dog!
Kevin, Mason’s service dog, was brought home by the family in April 2020. He is a black Labrador retriever who is trained to help Mason with specific needs. Kevin is now working on controlling Mason’s aggressive tendencies and meltdowns. Kevin is also trained to do search and rescue and to reach for Mason’s medications if needed.
Kevin is not done with his training, but the family is excited to welcome him in their family as soon as he gets certified.
Thank you to the whole community for helping this young boy!
Photo courtesy of Danielle Stevens Bowling via Facebook