27/02/2015 11:05 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Disabled Boy, 7, Wins Right For His Dog To Go To School With Him


A severely disabled seven-year-old boy has won the right for his pet dog to go to school with him.

Anthony Merchante suffers from cerebral palsy, spastic paralysis, a seizure disorder and can't speak.

He needs a wheelchair to move around and his service dog – a Staffordshire terrier called Stevie – accompanies him everywhere.

Stevie, a trained service dog, can alert people when Anthony is experiencing a medical crisis by jumping on a sensor mat or barking.

He's trained to help stabilise Anthony's head so his airway isn't impeded by lying across his front.

He also wears a red service vest that holds medical supplies and has detailed instructions on how to treat Anthony in the case of an emergency.

For the first four months that Anthony went to Nob Hill Elementary School, in Broward County, Florida, his mother was forced to stay with him.

The school board said the dog couldn't accompany the boy because staff were already trained to perform the same tasks as Stevie.

The district also argued that, even if Stevie was permitted on the campus, it wasn't reasonable for the district to bear the costs of the dog's handler.

But the judge ruled that it was reasonable for Stevie to go with Anthony to school, 'in the same way a school would assist a non-disabled child to use the restroom, or assist a diabetic child with her insulin pump, or assist a physically disabled child employ her motorized wheelchair'.

Anthony's mum, Monica Alboniga, told the Miami Herald: "Stevie has saved Anthony's life.

"I feel completely safe every time he is with the dog, because I know the dog will look for help.

"He loves Anthony. And Anthony loves Stevie, too."