It is no secret that the day to day lives of children with autism include sensory issues, meltdowns, and tantrums that all vary in severity depending on where on the spectrum the child is. Parents serve as primary sources of comfort and help to reduce these outbursts and calm children down when they occur. Yet service dogs have taken on the role of calming, redirecting and guiding individuals with autism, as well. This is why it was very special that Newark Police officers gifted ten-year-old Frankie Velez a new service dog.
On July 1, 2019 Velez and his previous service dog were out for a walk in their neighborhood when they were struck by a car. Thankfully, Velez endured no injuries from the car accident, but his service dog did not survive the accident. He has been having a difficult time since, adjusting with the loss of his service dog, who he considered his best friend and helped him manage his symptoms. Family friend Melvin Lopez told News12, “He’s very emotional. He’s very close to animals he loves dogs. Of course, he lost his best friend.”
Newark Police officers Malikah Muhammad and George Hiens, who patrol the area, knew of the tradegy Velez had experiences and wanted to help. On July 16th, Muhammad and Hiens, along with oher police officers, greeted Velez with a five-month-old Yorkie. Velez appeared ecstatic as he held his new service dog and shook each officer’s hand. “It’s a wonderful thing what the officers did. Very wonderful,” said Lopez to News12.
Although his apartment complex does not allow pets, Velez is the only person allowed to own a dog, as it is a service animal. He and his new dog “Blue”, whom he named after the color of the police officer’s uniforms, will be able to enjoy each other’s company due to the generosity and kindness of some of Newark’s finest.