With some help from the community, an autistic boy will be getting a special dog.
Jakob Nicastro is a 6-year-old autistic boy who lives in Rogersville. His story was first reported by the Times-News in November.
Jakob’s mother, Misha, was asking for help. She had found a place in Ohio called 4 Paws for Ability that trained dogs for autistic children.
The dog was $22,000, but some of the cost would be taken care of by the company.
That meant the Nicastros had to raise $13,000 on their own. Before the story ran, the family had raised $2,000. A little over two months later, the entire $13,000 had been raised.
“I’m really excited and super thankful,” Misha said. “All these people who we never met read the story and decided to give money for the dog. Some people just sent envelopes with Jakob’s name and Rogersville on it.”
Those envelopes made their way to the Nicastros along with a lot of online donations and money that was mailed directly to 4 Paws for Ability.
Misha also said there were several large anonymous donations made.
She said they started getting really excited when it was getting close and one final donation of $1,100 was made to put them over the top.
Misha got a confirmation email from 4 Paws for Ability and will be in the April/May 2015 class.
She said the reason it will take longer is because the trainers cannot teach the dogs to track in the winter.
Because of the autism, Jakob sometimes has meltdowns. A service dog would be trained to disrupt these behavior issues. If Jakob got out of the house — which he sometimes does without his parents knowing — the dog could track him down.
Jakob would also not be able to run away from his mother because the dog would be tethered to him when in public.
She said she talked to people who had the dogs, and they told her the meltdowns with their children have been cut in half.
She said there were still problems, but the meltdowns being cut down would be a great help.
Misha is thankful to the people who donated.
“I am so incredibly grateful,” she said. “This is absolutely going to change our lives. I can’t even fathom how this is going to make our lives better.”