CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A Harrison girl is hoping she will soon have her very own service dog to help her deal with disabilities that she’s been living with for most of her life.
Simply going to a restaurant or a grocery store is a difficult task for 11-year-old Isabella Thacker who has ADHD and autism. But a special, and expensive, four-legged friend could make everyday tasks much easier.
“I look at it as she just thinks differently,” Isabella’s mom Maigen Thacker explained. “There isn’t anything wrong with her. Her brain just works differently.”
Isabella was diagnosed with ADHD when she was six and autism about 18 months ago.
Her mom says this year has been especially rough as Isabella went from elementary school to Harrison Junior School.
“She’s had a very difficult time socializing with other kids, making friends, things like that,” Maigen continues. “So, we started looking at coping mechanisms for her.”
That’s when they learned about 4 Paws for Ability. A non-profit that trains service dogs. They train dogs to work with kids and adults with disabilities such as PTSD, autism, and much more.
“They [service dogs] learn how to break their [patient] arms away from their face if they’re hitting themselves or pulling their hair,” explains 4 Paws for Ability Volunteer Trainer Lili Scarlato. “If they’re having a panic attack, they can do behavior disruption by laying over their legs. Just giving that pressure that a lot of children with autism really benefit from.”
The Thacker’s must pay $17,000 of their own money on top of more than $20,000 coming from 4 Paws. But thanks to an anonymous donor, the Thacker’s only need to come up with half of the $17,000.
Because of the financial strain and not knowing if they will raise that amount of money, Meigan didn’t want to tell Isabella about the dog until Thursday.
Isabella is already excited at the prospect of having her very own service animal and friend.
“It’s really sad seeing her come home upset because ‘why won’t anybody be my friend,’” explains Meigan. “I really think a service dog will be that bridge that will get her where she needs to be.”
Donations to help provide a service dog for Isabella can be made via credit card or check: Credit card donations can be made directly to 4 Paws here or on the 4 Paws website. Make sure to indicate Isabella Thacker in the special instructions field. People can also donate over the phone at 4 Paws by calling 937-374-0385 Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Checks can be made payable to 4 Paws for Ability with Isabella Thacker on the memo line and mailed to 4 Paws for Ability, 207 Dayton Ave., Xenia, OH 45385.
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