Family raising funds to get service dog for autistic sons

Posted at 10:48 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 23:48:56-05
Caleb and Brenden Whitmore love playing video games at home. It's a quiet, safe environment where children with autism feel most comfortable.
"When we take them out to places that they're not familiar with, it's a very trying experience. Their senses are just off the charts," explained their dad, Daniel Whitmore.
The extra stimulation often leads to meltdowns, but what's even more concerning is that his sons are known to wander.
"It's very scary. It's what you're seeing on the news a lot with kids who leave schools or home, and most of the time it doesn't end up good for the kids."
Through their research, the Whitmores learned about the Ohio based non-profit organization called 4 Paws for Ability. The agency provides free service dogs that can calm and better protect their sons.
"If the boys try to wander off when he's near, he would physically stop them, sit, lay down and become an anchor, or do what he could to prevent it from happening." 
If they did happen to disappear, the dog is trained to find them.
"Having a service dog would let us leave the boundary of our home." 
But with the cost to train, house and feed the dogs running $22,000 to $46,000 per animal, 4 Paws for Ability requires recipient families to raise $15,000 to support the organization's mission. The Whitmores started an online fundraising campaign a few weeks ago.
"Seeing a lot of the people that we're friends with through church and scouts just coming up and volunteering to help us out before we even ask has just been tremendous." 
The family is also selling car wash gift cards and holding fundraisers at local businesses.
4 Paws for Ability leaders are getting anxious to match the Whitmores with their service dog to improve their quality of life.
"Just keeping the children safe and giving the parents peace of mind that they have another tool to help them in this fight against autism," said Development Director Kelly Camm,  
It's a fight that's about to get easier with the community's help. 
Daniel says, "It's uplifting to know that people are there to help you out."