Young girl's wish comes true with service dog surprise in New Jersey

Toni Yates Image
Monday, October 17, 2022
Young girl's wish comes true with service dog surprise
Walking with Rocky and training him on a leash will help 9-year-old Vicki greatly with her own motor skills. Toni Yates has the story.

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- A young girl in New Jersey battling health issues was surprised with her very own dog on Monday and it was a wish come true.

It all started with a letter from her family to Paterson Animal Control Chief John DeCando.

"It's a happy thing, the dog is going to give this child all the therapy she needs," DeCando said.

Vicki, 9, has been fighting for her life since before she was born.

During pregnancy, her mother, Elizabeth Lopez, was told by doctors that her baby had holes in each chamber of her heart.

"They told me that she had to have surgery at two months old, I was really stressed and it was so hard for me but I had to it," Lopez said.

It was life-threatening, and there were even more challenges to learn about her baby.

"She's missing a chromosome, deletion 22 I think it is, mild cerebral palsy, stroke, seizures, she's got the works," said Vicki's grandmother Carmin Martinez.

Therapies and medical support are needed daily.

And now, a letter from the doctors supports the surprise that has entered Vicki's life: a new dog.

She fell instantly in love with her very new energetic buddy: a 5-month-old mixed poodle named Rocky.

Walking with Rocky and training him on a leash will help Vicki greatly with her own motor skills.

She's feeling the challenge but is already learning to balance her steps with her brace on her leg and Rocky on her arm.

"The main thing is the child is happy and the child will be able to get her life a little bit better," DeCando said.

St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center is covering all of Rocky's vet bills so the two can stay as healthy as possible together.

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