Stranger Replaces Stolen Autism Therapy Dog

The recent trends in autism news have been dispiriting, to say the least. The persecution of parents with autism, a community rejecting a group home for young adults with autism, the harrowing encounters between individuals with autism and police and rampant wandering cases leave me needing a break from the doom-and-gloom. A story out of Chicago provides just that, where a total stranger has bought a new therapy puppy for a boy with autism. 

The story of Mariano Paredes refusing to eat after his dog was stolen became national news when television stations in the Chicago area pleaded for help in finding the youngster’s pet.

John Debartolo, a nearly-blind diabetic, heard the report and could not sleep afterwards. His own little dog is a constant support to him and he felt he had to do something for Mariano.

After holding a garage sale to augment his personal money, Debartolo bought Mariano a new puppy. United Airlines shipped the dog for free and Petland pitched in a $1,500 gift including five years of free shots for the dog, a year’s supply of food and a chip to help locate him in case the puppy ever went missing.

This story is all-the-more touching because the benefactor is himself disabled and far from wealthy. 

Therapy dogs can make all the difference in the world to a child with autism and it’s good to know that Mariano is eating again after the kindness of a stranger. 

If you’d like more information about therapy dogs for children with autism you can contact