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CANTON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — A Northeast Ohio community is banding together to help a 3-year-old boy and his family find their lost dog. But this is not an ordinary dog.

Darla, a 6-month-old German Shepherd, has a special mission. She is a therapy dog for the Myers’ family’s son.  She’s been missing since Dec. 27.

With help from residents in their community, the Myers family is searching all over the Canton Township area looking for her. The latest tip brought them to Smith’s Waco Market.

“A couple people have seen a German Shepherd around this area and that she’d been here for three or four days.  That’s why we came here tonight, we’re gonna go search for her and hopefully it is our German Shepherd,” said Melanie Myers, the boy’s mother.

The Myers say Darla ran from their yard to chase after another dog.

“We got her to help him learn how to talk,” she said of how the dog will help her son.

The family says they got Darla specifically as a therapy dog for their 3-year-old son, “DD,” who has a speech delay and is autistic.

“She helped him learn how to say things like ‘dah dob Darla,’ and that was ‘good job Darla,’ or ‘dop it’ or ‘dit down’ for ‘sit down’ and she helped us think of really creative ways to encourage him to want to say things, and at first he was scared of her and then they became good friends,” Myers added.

The Myers recently moved to the area from Pennsylvania and are overwhelmed by the hundreds of people who have offered to help. That includes the Stark County Humane Society, which placed a notice on its Facebook page.

“I’ve been running around ’til 12:00 at night, every minute I got, besides working, I been looking for, talking to all the people and we’re doing everything we can to get her,” said David Myers, the boy’s father.

“DD” and his 5-year-old sister Mary Jane hope someone can help bring Darla home.

“She’s part of the family, she’s part of the family, you know.  Whatever it’s gonna take,” said their father.

The Myers are offering a $500 reward for anyone who can help bring their dog home. But many people are offering to do things for them.

A local groomer offered to donate the reward money to a dog therapy program if he helps find it. A German Shepherd breeder has offered to donate a puppy for the boy’s continued therapy.

Anyone with information about Darla should contact the Stark County Humane Society at (330) 453-5529.