Event helps boy with autism acquire service dog

OVER THE RHINE, OH (FOX19) - A day at the park can help a local boy with autism.

Washington Park in Over the Rhine will be the backdrop for '4 Paws for Finn', a family friendly day of dogs, food, raffles and music to help a boy with autism acquire a service dog.

When Finn Catalanotto was diagnosed with autism, his family searched for ways to enrich his life and keep him safe. The search led them to an Ohio organization called '4 Paws for Ability'.

Through the organization, Finn has been selected to receive an Autism assistance dog. In order to complete this quest, the family must raise a portion of the funds. The family looked to Pet Wants, an urban feed market, in Over the Rhine to put out a small donation jar.

Michele Hobbs, the owner of Pet Wants, took a different approach. Hobbs decided that the best way to raise the kind of funds needed was to involve the entire community. Through Hobbs, '4 Paws for Finn' was born.

Service dogs are social assistants to their little owners with limited language skills. The future dog could give Finn a conversation piece to discuss and engage with others. These dogs have been trained to stop sensory stimming seen in children with autism.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls was the guest speaker. Qualls announced new canine initiatives and opened a discussion on the spay and neuter practices within the city, with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of stray puppies and kittens euthanized from over breeding.

A pub crawl will follow the event at 4:00 p.m., to the Lackman, Neon's Unplugged and MOTR Pub.

All of the proceeds from the event and the pub crawl will directly go to Finn's service dog program.

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