Boy With Austim Devastated After City Bans Pet Pig

"They said as long as it's not a disturbance," he said. "We didn't know anything about an ordinance."

Tibbetts said it's not clear how officials found out about Loopey. He was told that a complaint was filed and while he has his suspicions, he's not exactly sure who it was.

Acting on the advice of a council member who lived nearby, Tibbets petitioned the city council to amend the ordinance to allow Loopey to remain at home.

"We thought that once they knew why we had her ... we didn't think it would be a big deal," he said.

But while the council agreed initially to consider the idea, there was not enough support. Tibbetts said he was told to wait until after the fall elections and hope there would be enough turnover that the new council would think differently.

Tibbetts said he and his wife, a day care administrator, would like to move out of Fayetteville, but have not yet found other housing that is both affordable and can accommodate their four children and, of course, Loopey.

"If I had the money, believe me, we'd already be out of this town," he said.

Animals and Their Efffect on Children With Autism

Dr. Lori Warner, director of the HOPE Center for Autism at Beaumont Hospital in Michigan, told that while there is no scientific evidence that animals provide medical benefit for autistic children, there are enough anecdotal tales, including some from her own patients' parents, to take the trend seriously.

Losing a close friend -- human or animal -- can be traumatic for any child, but "especially a child who has social difficulties."

For a child such as Anthony, who Warner has not treated, that loss and the disruption of routine, something else precious to people with autism, could be difficult for him to process.

The animal, she said, can provide companionship for Anthony, but helping him learn how to exist in the real world.

"He could use this relationship with Loopey to reach out to other people," she said.

For now, Tibbetts, a warehouse manager out on disability, helps Anthony keep his bond going with trips to see Loopey, who he said, is happy to see her boy.

"As soon as she hears her name, she is wagging her tail and grunting," he said.

And he got a surprise call from a local fair owner who heard about Anthony's plight and offered the family of six a free night at the fair, an opportunity Tibbetts and Pia used to show Anthony that there are people out there who care about him.

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