Community rallies to give special needs boy a new best friend

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Meet 9-year-old Liam Diego Morgan.

With an infectious smile, the third grader is like any other. He loves LEGOs, video games and drawing. 

But for those who don’t know him, sometimes Liam is misunderstood.

“He’s not just a bad kid or he’s not just acting out, he struggles mentally with autism, ADHD and he gets over stimulated,” said Liam’s mother Melissa Morgan. 

Liam often injures himself at school, or struggles with meltdowns.

So Liam’s mom Melissa prayed.

“I’ve had a dream about him getting a dog for a long time,” said Morgan. 

An autism service dog, explains trainer Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers Training Director Cheri Campbell can help children like Liam tremendously.

“They help with meltdowns as far as the individual, where it may have been a 45 minute melt down, it now may be five. The dog helps calm them. It helps with socializing out in the public, you look at him, ask him questions about himself, he may not answer but you look at him and ask him about his dog and he’ll be more willing to talk to you,” explained Campbell.

But those dogs are expensive.

Undeterred, Melissa enlisted her church, Canyon Hills Assembly of God.

With the help of former Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, in just four months that community raised over $25,000.

Enough to secure 16-month-old trained autism service dog Norman, who finally met his new owner Monday morning.

The two hit it off. 

“My heart is overflowing with joy…today means everything to me we’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Liam was diagnosed at three and a half and he’s come a long way and i just feel like if anyone deserves it it’s him,” said Morgan.

With plenty of licks and love to come for Liam.

“Bakersfield is just such a generous community, I’m just so grateful, so grateful,” said Morgan.

Once the trainer and Liam’s mother feel Liam is able to handle Norman on his own, Norman will eventually join Liam at school.

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