Service Dog for Leo

This is our son Leo.  He is a bright, humorous 7 year old child with an amazing “Superpower”. He does not feel pain.  While some would think this is amazing, it actually brings many challenges to this little guy.

At the young age of 18 months we noticed that Leo had some developmental delays.  He began receiving therapies to address these delays.  The therapies were not as successful as we hoped.  Leo continued to struggle with appropriate nutrition, showing appropriate affection towards others, sensory overload, hyperactivity and a sense of “no fear”.  Over the next several years Leo was seen by many doctors and specialists to determine a cause for the developmental delays.  He was definitely a puzzle.  Doctors finally diagnosed him with Autism, ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder and Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis or HSAN4.  The last one, HSAN4, is what gives him his “Superpower”.  Leo does not sense pain and he does not sweat.  This results in him not being able to regulate his body temperature.  He easily overheats and cannot warm his body when cold.  The inability to sense pain causes extreme self-injury because he lacks the ability to know when his body is in danger.

As we look back, it all makes sense.  During Leo’s 7 years of life he has broken 6 bones, (legs included), dislocated his hip 3 times, and gone through multiple surgeries and braces to repair his body.  He's had 2 bone infections (osteomyelitis) because he cannot rest to heal his injuries.  He has damaged both ankles and heels from “smashing” his feet into the ground when he walks.  He has pulled out more than half of his own teeth, including 2 permanent teeth.  Leo has done all of this without a shedding a tear or shrieking in pain.  This may be looked at as an amazing “Superpower”, but as Spiderman’s uncle, Ben Parker, once said, “With great power comes great responsibility”.  It is our responsibility to keep him safe; this is why we're asking for your help.

We are raising money to provide Leo with a Service Dog. We are working with On Command Canine Training in Joplin, MO .  Our goal is to raise $25,000.  The cost for a service dog is $12,000 and approximately $100 per month to maintain the dog for the entirety of its life; approximately 10 years.  Additionally, funds will support travel costs incurred as we develop a relationship with Leo's dog during the first year while in training. 

As Leo gets older and stronger we are concerned for his safety even more.  Leo’s service dog would help Leo:

Reduce repetitive behaviors and anxiety by using distraction techniques to intervene.

Calm himself, maintain a regular sleep pattern and develop meaningful connections to others.

Develop independence and freedom in crowded places by tethering.

Stay safe by having the ability to track and trail for elopement, identify and alert dangerous situations, identify changes in body temperature.

Leo is an amazing little boy, he deserves to live an amazing life.  Please help us provide him with this opportunity that could be life changing for him and our family.  We understand if you are not able to donate, please just share this cause.  Thank you so very much in advance!  You can follow Leo’s adventure to having a lifelong companion here or through Facebook or Instagram.

A Pup for Leo P #love4leo
  • Colin Bourke 
    • $3,000 
    • 47 mos
  • Maggie Stelzer 
    • $50 
    • 51 mos
  • Jeff Cox 
    • $100 
    • 51 mos
  • Mark Fernandez 
    • $50 
    • 51 mos
  • Susan Giudici 
    • $100 
    • 53 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Jen Leip Haefner 
St Louis, MO
Amy Puricelli