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Grand Prairie special needs child will get his own service dog

GRAND PRAIRIE -- Emilio Sandoval, a special needs child who connected with another boy’s lost service dog earlier this year, will soon get a service dog of his own.

On Thursday, Sam’s Club and Milk-Bone Canine Heroes partnered to donate a service dog to Emilio, a 5-year-old child who has cerebral palsy, autism and is non-verbal. Emilio’s actual dog will be selected and trained for his specific needs and will be given to him at later date at the Canine Assistants training camp in Georgia.

“It was awesome,” said Susanne Sandoval , Emilio’s mother. “I’m blessed by it. It makes you realize how many good people are still out there.”

Sam’s Club and Milk Bone Canine Heroes decided to get Emilio a dog after hearing how he interacted with a Walker Coonhound named “Spot,” who serves an 8-year-old autistic boy.

Spot, who belongs to D.J. Bowe, became lost on Oct. 24 after he sprinted out of the Bowe’s south Grand Prairie home and ran after the family car. Emilio’s uncles found Spot and gave him to Emilio’s grandmother.

When Emilio went to his grandma’s house, Spot stayed by his side, following the boy from room to room. Susanne Sandoval has said that she believes Spot was drawn to Emilio because he had been trained to help children with special needs.

Spot was later reunited with D.J. Bowe and his family, who offered to help raise money so that Emilio could have a service dog, too.

Milk-Bone Canine Heroes is a program that strengthens connections between dogs and people by donating service dogs to law enforcement and providing dogs to people with disabilities.