National News

Citrus Heights Family Raising Money to Pay for Service Dog for 5-Year-Old Son

Posted July 28

— Dylan depends on his mommy.

"Oh where, oh where is mommy?"

But sooner or later he'll depend on his doggy.

"It takes a long time to get a dog," Dylan said.

"It does take a very long time," said Heater Gingras, Dylan's mom.

"We have to pay money," Dylan said.

They'll have to pay about $17,000 for a certified service dog trained to take care of Dylan's specific needs.

"It's organic brain damage. It is permanent, brought on by mother's drinking while they're pregnant," Gingras said.

Heather's 5-year-old was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome. His symptoms are similar to those associated with autism -- social anxiety, severe emotional meltdowns and he wanders.

"He's fearless so this dog will be tethered to him," Gingras said.

The service dog will track Dylan if he gets lost, direct him away from his social triggers and apply pressure to calm his nerves.

"I may be their adoptive mom but ... they're mine," Heather said.

Heather and her husband adopted Dylan as a package deal along with his two biological brothers, 3-year-old Quinn and 2-year-old Jackson, so they could grow up together as a family.

"They've absolutely filled a hole in our lives," Gingras said.

And, together, they've been fundraising for months -- their only way to afford Dylan's service dog.

"It's called 'you've been pawed,'" Gingras said.

They stick cardboard cutouts of dogs in front yards all over Citrus Heights and Carmichael to tell Dylan's story -- his journey to get a service dog through donations.

"Super pup," Dylan said.

"Super pup, that's what he keeps calling it," Gingras said.

"I want him to fly," Dylan said.

Dylan has some big dreams, all he needs is a wet nose to nudge him in the right direction.

"So he can be as independent, as successful as he can be," Gingras said.

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