Anonymous donor helps autistic boy get service dog

Five-year-old Hunter Otness soon will get the service dog he needs to keep him safe thanks to a large donation from an anonymous donor.

Five-year-old Hunter Otness soon will get the service dog he needs to keep him safe thanks to a large donation from an anonymous donor.

Hunter’s parents, Felicia and Sean Otness, began fundraising for their autistic son several weeks ago when they decided to get an assistance dog from 4 Paws for Ability. The Ohio-based nonprofit organization requires that approved families raise $13,000 to pay for their service dog.

Felicia, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, said it is hard to keep her son under control when she is out in public. A service dog would help her with that challenge. It would also give her peace-of-mind when she is not able to be with Hunter, such as when he goes to school at Newport Heights Elementary.

After reading a story the Reporter covered in its July 24 issue (“Bellevue’s Otness family looks to help autistic son through fund-raising effort”), a donor contacted the Reporter.

The donor asked not to be named and also did not want the amount of the check disclosed. However, the large donation did come from the Luke 12:48 Foundation, bringing the Otness family only several hundred dollars away from their fundraising goal.

“I’m still in shock every time I think of it,” Felicia said. “I just think it’s one of the most amazing gifts I’ve ever heard of.”

According to the foundation’s Web site, the Luke 12:48 scripture says, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

“The reason I helped Hunter is explained in the name of the foundation,” the donor said in an e-mail. “To me, that means life – we were given life when Jesus died for us, therefore we are asked to lay down our lives as we know them. That means surrendering money to those who need it. I felt Hunter’s family needed it and I am happy to help and that God chose me to answer their call.”

With the funds almost all raised, 4 Paws for Ability has already enrolled Hunter in its April/May tracking class. The Otness family will fly out then to Ohio to meet the new dog and Hunter and Felicia will go through an intensive 10-day training to become certified.

Felicia said the organization has not picked out Hunter’s dog yet, but Hunter will receive a picture and a letter about his dog a couple weeks before training.

On the first day of training, Hunter will be able to take his dog back to the hotel room with him and the dog will be his from that point on.

In the coming weeks, Felicia said she may have a garage sale to raise money for her family’s trip to Ohio as Sean will be out of work for the duration. She also has been fortunate to have a couple friends offer them airline miles and gift cards so they can eat.

As for the donation, it was meant to be, she added.

And the news couldn’t have come at a better time.

The week she found out her son would be able to get his service dog, she found out she was pregnant with her third child.

“It feels like this person I don’t know is an angel and it makes me believe there’s something out there or a higher force that’s guiding us to where we’re supposed to be,” Felicia said of Hunter’s donor. “I thought my family would have a long road ahead of us. This has lifted a weight off our shoulders and I know it will be so great for my family.”

Carrie Wood can be reached at or 425-453-4290.