Colton needs a service dog

As many of our friends and family know, Colton has autism. One of our biggest struggles with this disorder is elopement. When Colton wants to go somewhere, he finds away to do it. He's gotten out of our house more than once, and we have had to call the police twice to help get him back home. The first time we installed every safety measure we could think of to make it extremely difficult if not impossible for Colton to get out of our house without our knowledge. We have chimes on the doors, double key deadbolts, chains on the doors, locks on the windows and a motion activated camera on our floodlight. Despite all these precautions a few weeks ago he snuck out of the house while the twins and I were taking out the trash and grabbing some things out of the car. In the 8 minutes I was outside I activated the camera 3 times. Despite this, he was not caught on video so I had no way of knowing which direction he went. After we found him thanks to our wonderful police department, we found out he had climbed a fence, jumped in a pool, got away from that family, and continued down the block where he got in another backyard and was jumping on a trampoline. I am still shaken from the experience. We have explored options of GPS tracking, but since he regularly changes clothes, and is an expert at getting out of bracelets, they aren't really suited for our needs to keep him safe. A friend suggested a service dog. Colton has had experience at school with a sweet dog that keeps her boy safe from elopement. I reached out to a wonderful online community on Facebook and a dog trainer offered to help us find a dog and train it for our needs. Most autism service dogs can cost up to $25,000. She explained that since she works with a police dog trainer she has access to the vendors, and is willing to train the dog for us for next to nothing. Which would bring our costs down to approximately $8,000. Joel and I have struggled with the decision to ask for help again. What helped us make this decision was consideration for Colton's safety and his quality of life. At 8 years old he is very strong and very fast. For those who don't know we also have 5 year old twins. I can no longer take them to the park or for a walk by myself. Even going to the zoo or Six Flags has become a struggle because Colton can run at any time and I have to choose to chase him or stay with the twins, which is no choice at all. We've gotten to the point where we rarely go anywhere except indoor playplaces and the houses of family members. Colton is a boy who LOVES the outdoors, and it makes me so sad to limit his access to it. For those unfamiliar with how service dogs can help with autism I want to share this information and a few links. The dog will be trained to have Colton tethered to him by a belt/leash. I will be the handler and also hold a leash to the dog. We will work together to keep him safe. In case mistakes happen again the dog will be trained to track his specific scent so instead of driving around the neighborhood hoping to catch sight of him the dog will be able to lead me to him.  I'm hoping they will also bond with each other and give Colton security and friendship with "his" dog. Please do not feel obligated to give. But if you are moved to, any help, no matter how small will be deeply appreciated. The trainer, Emily, who has already become a friend has started on the process to locate the perfect dog for Colton. We are hoping to have him or her by the beginning of next year. Thank you for your time.
Much love,
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Amy Turnipseed 
Arlington, TX
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