Jefferson County family asks for help with finding autistic son’s missing therapy dog

BARNHART, MO - A desperate search for a man’s best friend.  A family from Barnhart is hoping the community can help find their therapy dog of thirteen years that escaped from their backyard last Tuesday.

“He may have gotten out of a hole in our fence,” explained Misty Whetstone, “Stitch is Mike’s therapy dog.”

Whetstone said, her 18-year-old son Michael Perrone has autism.  Stitch, a black lab was brought in when her son was 5-years-old to help him function in social settings.

“He helps with our family, he helps Mike get out there, he helps Mike talk to people,” said Whetstone as she cried.

“He makes me feel like I actually belong here like I’m not just a part of this family but also a part of this world,” said Perrone.

Nora Russo, owner of Green Roof Kennel said that training requests for therapy dogs are becoming more and more common.

“I probably get a dozen calls a week and that’s a lot,” Russo said, “these dogs can run an upwards from $20,000 to $40,000 per dog.  It’s an expense that these people have to burden.”

Russo said, the impact of a therapy dog on families, especially with loved ones who have disabilities, can be life changing in a positive way.

“These dogs are helping parents with children with autism so they can take a little down time because it’s very stressful for anyone to go through with some type of disability,” said Russo.

The family along with the help of their neighbors have been spending the last few days putting up posters and fliers offering a cash reward of up $1,500, hoping that someone will recognize Stitch and bring him home.

“What price do you put on him?” said Whetstone, “what price do you put on your kid?”

Anyone who may find Stitch is asked to call the Arnold Animal hospital or Open Door Animal Sanctuary.  Here’s a link to the family’s missing therapy dog Facebook page.

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