LIFE has been very tough for severely autistic Ballina boy William Nicols ever since his dog passed away in January from old age.
William's mother Michele said Moscow had been by her son's side as a companion since he was born, helping him to lead a more normal life despite his learning difficulties.
"It was only a matter of days after Moscow passed away that William went missing so we had to call police and four crews of police had a three hour search for him," she said.
"He was found in somebody else's home with a chicken he had found elsewhere."
Following this stressful experience, Ms Nichols began researching autism assistance dogs but discovered there was a four year wait to obtain a dog worth about $10,000, for free.
William only started to speak at age 10, and due to his disability has few friends, so Ms Nichols said he had been seeking out a companion.
"He has actually wandered up the street and taken somebody's dog from their yard."
"As he gets older it is unfortunate that he will have few friends and it is likely he will become targeted by bullies and be a victim of assault."
This prompted the Ballina mother to try online "crowd funding" in an attempt to raise $10,000 for a dog for William.
Autism assistance dogs help children with special needs gain independence and confidence.
The dogs are specially trained to disrupt autistic behaviours and can even be trained to track children if they wander away.
Ms Nichols thanked their Ballina neighbourhood for understanding William's condition, which could have been more dangerous due to his wandering and autistic behaviours.