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Family needs $14K for special service dog

5-year-old with autism needs service dog

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BERKLEY, Mich. – Five years ago, Bella was born premature.

Now, she suffers from hypotonic cerebral palsy and has autism.

"She's so loving and so receptive to animals, and you see that a lot with children with autism. It brings out the language. Animals have the magic," said her social worker, Andie Wagner.

However, the magic comes with a hefty price tag: $14,000.

"I work as hard as a possibly can to make sure I have enough money to cover the bills, and that's pretty much all we really get," said Bella's father, Austin Keeler.

The family doesn't have the money they desperately need for Bella.

"As a special needs mom and as just as a normal working-class family, we don't have $14,000. As a parent it really hurts to not be able to donate all that money and get my child what she needs quickly," said mother Katie Keeler.

The family is working to raise the funds.

"We have a little over $4,300, and I can't believe that we've gotten that much in just 6 weeks," said Katie.

With $10,000 more to go, the idea of a service dog seems like a distant dream for the Keelers. However, the sooner it does become a reality, the sooner Bella will get a sense of normalcy.

"It's become like a sentinel. I mean, it's going to be watching and taking care of Bella and her needs, and it's trained specifically for her. You can't get any better than that," said Austin.