Community comes together to help autistic boy get service dog - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Community comes together to help autistic boy get service dog

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A northern Virginia community is coming together to help a family with a child on the autism spectrum.

Ricky Perreault is six years old. Lives in Midland, Virginia (that's in Fauquier County) with his parents and older brother. Just started kindergarten.

Because Ricky tends to wander, even in his own backyard, Tom and Shannon Perreault can never let him out of their sight.

"Even with two parents it can be very difficult to keep an eye on him," says Mr. Perreault, "and keep track of him."

"The other day at the bus stop," Shannon adds, "our neighbor was across the street getting her mail and he saw her and went over to go see her. And of course she was across the road."

That's why the Perreaults want to get Ricky a service dog trained to look after children with autism.

"The dog is going to prevent that," Shannon says. "Ricky will be attached to the dog. So if he goes to run the dog will anchor him and not allow him to run off. And in the horrible scenario that he does get off, this dog will track him and find him. This dog is trained to Ricky's scent only."

"We really think the dog's going to help us be more of a normal family," says Tom.

There's only one hitch: the dog, from a northern California company, costs $14,000. And that's where the community comes in. Friends are hosting a fundraiser Saturday at Clark Brothers Gun Shop in Warrenton.

They'll be raffling off some firearms, an electric garage door opener (plus installation) and a chimney sweep, among other items.

"It's going to be a lot of fun as the community comes together to help us raise this money to get our son the dog he needs," Tom says.

"Everyone's been so nice and we haven't really had anyone say 'no'," adds Shannon.

Thanks to close friends, the Perreaults have already raised nearly $5,000 and are hoping to raise more than needed this weekend.

"If we do that," Shannon says, "we will not only be able to help Ricky, but we're probably going to be able to help other children too."

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