Therapy dog for young boy with autism fatally shot

Copalis Beach, Washibgton. – A dog who helped in the therapy of an 11-year-old boy who was diagnosed with autism was found fatally shot earlier last week. The dog, named Rhea, was first reported missing Sept. 29 by her owners and was found fatally wounded by a gunshot less than 24 hours later. She was immediately brought to a veterinarian, but died soon after.

Armenta Youngblood, Rhea’s owner, reported the dog missing Monday after they noticed she wasn’t home, according to the Gray Harbor’s County Sheriff’s office. Authorities found the 11-month-old pitbull only three blocks away from Youngblood’s home the following day.

According to Youngblood, her son, Derrick, is having a hard time trying to cope with Rhea’s loss. Youngblood said that Derrick, who was diagnosed with autism, had less meltdowns ever since Rhea was brought into her home. Derrick used to have at least three meltdowns in a day, which was cut sharply to just once in a month with Rhea’s help.

Now that Rhea is no longer with them, however, the frequency of Derrick’s meltdowns has shot back to three in a day.

Authorities are now currently holding an investigation in an attempt to find who was behind Rhea’s death. The local community in Gray Harbor County is also offering a reward to anyone who could contribute information about the shooting incident.  For more information, visit Operation Dog Rescue’s website here.