Family raising funds to purchase service dog for son with autism

NOW: Family raising funds to purchase service dog for son with autism

OSCEOLA, Ind. --

For families who have children with autism, everyday activities can become daily struggles.

One family from Osceola knows some of those struggles well after their five-year-old son, Hunter, was diagnosed with autism, ADHD and anxiety last august.

Now Hunter’s parents are hoping a furry friend can change Hunter’s life.

 “I think it will help him calm down and refocus,” said Hunter’s mother Marise Davis.

High energy and difficulty focusing are a few of Hunter’s daily challenges.

His parents say the medication they’ve tried all have side effects, so they decided to swap the pills for paws.

 “I just think he’ll have a lot better quality of life with a dog than being medicated all the time,” said Hunter’s father Lawrence Davis.

After researching about service dogs, the Davis family found an organization out of Plymouth called Northern Indiana Service Dogs.

The organization specializes in training the dogs for their clients' specific needs.

Hunter’s parents recently chose Ben, a 7-week-old puppy, to help Hunter manage his symptoms. Ben was just picked up by the trainers on Saturday.

“Ben’s getting ready to go through a lot of training with Shelley and her family to get him ready to do the activities that he’ll need to do for Hunter,” said Rachel Curley, the owner and director of Northern Indiana Service Dogs.

Shelley Montgomery will be training Ben over the next year. She says if Ben can handle her four children and in-home daycare, he'll be able to keep up with Hunter.

“We have children around all the time,” said Montgomery. “Plus my sons are involved in so many sports and activities. We’re going to have soccer games and baseball games. Ben is going to be around so many people, so many children of all different age ranges.”

But as Ben goes through the training, the Davis family is still saving up money to afford him.

 “I think we’ve already exhausted our Facebook friends and family,” said Lawrence.

After going through an application process, the family started an online fundraiser through

Unlike other online fundraising sites, this organization gives 100 percent of the donations back to the cause.

Unfortunately this pup costs a pretty penny.

Ben will cost is $7,000. None of that cost is covered by insurance. So far the family has raised just over $1,700.

Now they’re leaning on generous hearts to change Hunter’s life.

“Yesterday I was cashing out my change buckets and I was telling the teller what I was cashing them in for. And there was a complete stranger who came up and gave me some money,” said Lawrence. “And it touched my heart that there’s still people like that out here in this world. We’re going to need the help of strangers like that, who have good hearts.”

The family has until April 15th to fundraise the money. More about Hunter’s story and the link to donate can be found here.

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