An upstate family wants to buy a life-changing service dog for their autistic daughter

FOUNTAIN INN, SC (FOX Carolina) – “She taught me a lot of patience,” Rachel Jeffries said of her 4-year-old daughter, Daphne. “She taught me that my love is unconditional. She taught me to appreciate the little things.”

Rachel told FOX Carolina she would do anything for her daughter.

“She definitely has some challenges that other kids don’t have,” she said.

Daphne was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. She is currently non-verbal and suffers from severe anxiety attacks, which her mother says are difficult to break.

“It’s especially difficult for her because she can’t communicate with us and know exactly what’s going on, you know?” Rahel said.

After much research, Rachel says she came across the Service Dog Institute at Fountain Inn and its founder, Melissa Yetter.


“We adapt each dog individually to the needs of humans,” explains Yetter.

Yetter’s nonprofit, which she started because her own son had autism, has been in operation since 2010 and during that time has shipped 120 specialty dogs to families in the Carolinas and Georgia.

“We want dogs that are friendly and allow families to tell their stories. And provide education,” Yetter told FOX Carolina.

Yetter’s method is unique but effective. With highly specialized trainers, they select their dogs and make them excel at specific tasks.

In the case of Daphne, Yetter says her dog will specialize in something called “tethering,” where they can act as anchors to keep her in one place and be an extra pair of watchful eyes.

“She wants to have that tactile element,” Yetter said. “And that’s important to her, to her behavior, to reassure her.”

“We’re looking for a dog to help her stay out of the street. That can help her realize that she needs to stay close to mom and dad,” Rachel said. “It would mean so much to us.”

Rachel says the family has already raised more than $6,000 but still wants to raise about double that for their dog. She is asking the community for help, but not just for herself and her family.

“Anything else would just go to her,” Rachel said, speaking of the Service Dog Institute. “And it would help the next family.”

“I know there are a lot of families with autistic kids upstate,” she added, “and I’m not sure they know that these services are in the process.”

The Service Dog Institute helps the Jeffries family raise money. If you would like to donate to the 501c3 certified nonprofit, you can send them a check.

You can also visit their website: They make their charitable contributions through PayPal – under the Charity Donations category.

For both methods, all you have to do is include Daphne’s name in your memo.

Finally, the family also runs a GoFundMe:

They say that any contribution you are willing to give is a blessing.

About Clayton Arredondo

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