People shop at local garage sale which benefited a service dog project. (DHI Media/Sherry Missler)
People shop at local garage sale which benefited a service dog project. (DHI Media/Sherry Missler)
By SHERRY MISSLER

Times Bulletin Staff Writer

smissler@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT — There were a number of garage sales in the area over the weekend. Most of them were located along Lincoln Highway, the so-called Buy-Way sales. One very special sale gave buyers the opportunity to help raise money to obtain a service dog for young Caia Hough. Caia, the three-year-old daughter of Keith and Destinee Hough, is afflicted with autism. She experiences meltdowns due to her condition and a group is assisting the family with finding a suitable dog to help Caia deal with her condition.

Her father, Keith, explained the need. “Caia has autism and is limited verbally. She can’t express her feelings verbally so she will headbutt stuff, she’ll scream, she’ll bite herself. Once we have a service dog, when she has a meltdown, the dog will be able to nudge her and provide the pressure needed to calm her down.”

He added, “We have to raise $17,000 for her to get the service dog. The organization we go through is 4 Paws for Ability. It takes about $40,000 to $60,000 to train the dogs and place them with the family. We have done different fundraisers to raise the funds we need.”

He expressed his appreciation to the community for its support. “There’s a lot of people who have donated. We’ve had a lot of the community come together and help us. Most everything at this sale was donated. We have donation buckets at the Shell gas station, at Brookside. We did a T-shirt sale. We’re planning some other fundraisers for winter and spring. We have a Facebook page where people can donate, 4 Paws for Caia Hough.” He said a lady from Middle Point held a garage sale and donated all the proceeds to the cause. During Willshire Days one of his co-workers set up a donation bucket to help raise money.

He said the efforts have raised about $1,000 so far. “We won’t know for sure until we get a statement from 4 Paws. These come in on the 15th of every month. We started fundraising at the end of June.”

Keith said, the couple did some research and discovered 4 Paws. “We found different organizations that help getting dogs and found one in Xenia close to Dayton. We already go to Dayton a lot because that’s where Caia meets with her doctors. We thought we’d keep it in Ohio. Anyone who wants to help can send a check to 4 Paws for Ability, 253 Dayton Ave., Xenia, Ohio 45385 and put Caia Hough on the memo line of the check. It all goes to 4 Paws. We don’t see any of the money.” He added that the proceeds from fundraisers are sent to the group via a money order.