Community helps raise money for autistic man's service dog

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Jacob Saeker was diagnosed with autism when he was 6.

His parents saw that Jacob was having difficulty with routines, sounds, and social situations. He was also prone to some serious meltdowns.

When Jacob was 12, he was introduced to Thor, a trained service dog. It was Thor, the jet black, big, German Shepard, that changed Jacob's life.

"Thor and I were inseparable. He gave his life for me. He spent his life helping me, and I couldn't be more grateful for that," said Jacob.

Thor helped Jacob with his meltdowns, taught him to express his feelings better, to interact better in social situations, and to be less fearful of his environment.

"It's been a 5,000 percent change for his life. It's changed him from an introverted, very frustrated young boy to a confident, strong young man," said Jacob's mother, Kristi Saeker.

Sadly, Thor passed away in August after a long battle with cancer. However, Jacob now has a new dog, Jasmine, to fill the space that Thor left.

"She's wonderful. She's a handful, but she's such a blessing," said Jacob about Jasmine.

But, Jasmine does come with a cost. She will cost the family $15,000. Jasmine has been trained and is a little over a year old. The cost of her training will be for her whole lifetime.

Cathy Miller, the owner of Tastries Bakery, decided to hold a fundraiser to help the family raise money for Jasmine.

"I think it's really important that as a community we help each other and support each other. When everybody just gives a little bit, then we can make something big happen," said Miller.

Tons of cookies and cupcakes were for sale from Tastries Bakery. There was also a raffle that included a football signed by the University of Southern California quarterback Cody Kessler, cookie decorating classes, and a picture signed by John Travolta.

The Kern County Autism Center and Inclusion Films also came out for the event.

All of the money raised will be used to pay for Jasmine. Any extra money will be given to other people in need of a service dog.

If you would like to donate, the family has set up an account at Wells Fargo bank under "Jasmine 4 Jacob K9 Fund."

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