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Rye Boy’s Missing Autism Service Dog Found Safe

Echo Disappeared From Home Last Wednesday
Echo is back and playing with her family in Rye on Nov. 15, 2013. (credit: Guiding Eyes for the Blind/Facebook)

Echo is back and playing with her family in Rye on Nov. 15, 2013. (credit: Guiding Eyes for the Blind/Facebook)

RYE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – An autism service dog that disappeared last week is back home in Rye.

A woman returned Echo, a 5-year-old Labrador Retriever, to the Fontana family on Friday, CBS 2′s Lou Young reported.

“It’s a beautiful day and we are so thankful!” Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the nonprofit which trained the animal, posted on its Facebook page, along with a picture of Echo playing in the family’s yard.

The dog had left the family’s Dearborn Avenue through an open door last Wednesday night. Neighbors organized search parties and fanned out along Oakland Beach and other spots near Rye Playland, but the search turned up nothing.

For 5-year-old Mark Fontana, Echo is truly his best friend, his guide, his compass and his protector.

“She’s a safety feature ’cause she stops him from running away,” the boy’s father, Paul Fontana, told WCBS 880′s Sean Adams earlier this week. “Autistic children have the tendency to bolt and run off into traffic or into water. Mark certainly does that. Echo’s been a big help, really helping him just stay. He’s literally tethered to her, so when he runs away, she braces and he can’t bolt.”

Fontana said Echo is always by his son’s side.

“She walks to school with him. We take her out when we go shopping or to the mall or to the beach or pool or anywhere,” Fontana said. “The idea is that she’s always with him.”

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