BROOKSVILE — Two Brooksville families raising special needs children are turning rescue dogs into service dogs with the help of Dream Acres for Autism.

The tax-exempt nonprofit group “acquires, tests, trains, and matches rescue dogs to be service dogs for children and youths on the autism spectrum,” according to their website.

On Nov. 30, the families met at the Lowe’s on Broad Street to work Iris, a 6-year old St. Bernard, and Honey, not quite a year-old mixed breed. Linda Heigham, a volunteer dog trainer with Dream Acres, observed the exercises and guided specific techniques the dogs needed to learn to complete their training.

Dream Acres for Autism was created by founder Ellen Richards-Clark, whose son has an autism spectrum disorder. Dogs that meet the specific requirements of the program are rescued and placed with qualifying families.

Dream Acres for Autism offers an increased level of independence to individuals with autism through dogs professionally trained for autism needs.

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