Society

Family Says $17,000 Service Dog They Bought For Son Doesn’t Work

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A Seattle family who spent $17,000 on a service dog for their 12-year-old son who suffers from a severe nut allergy claims the dog is not properly trained.

Logan Gonzales has been hospitalized nearly 50 times due to his allergy.

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“My throat closes and my tongue gets really big,” he told CBS Denver.

It’s happened so many times that Logan is afraid to go new places and is often segregated at school to protect him from exposure.

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That’s why his family got him a labradoodle service dog named Roxie from Angel Service Dogs. The website for the company, which is based in Monument, Colorado, says it is “committed to helping families find the Allergy Alert™ Dog for their family.”

“Since a dog’s sense of smell far surpasses that of humans, scent detection is a perfect job for a correctly trained dog,” the company website states. “What defines an Allergy Alert™ dog is the standards and processes created by Angel Service Dogs™, Inc. First health tested, then trained by a team of Master Trainers, a dog will be able to detect elements of an allergen in most any form; raw, cooked, oil, butter, dust etc. as deemed necessary by the clients physicians.”

But the Gonzales family says Roxie is a dud. She can detect the smell of nuts, but she is too distracted to work efficiently. In the nine years that they’ve owned Roxie, their son has been hospitalized 15 times for nut exposure.

“We were told she would be able to pick up peanut residue on your fingers,” his mother Judie Gonzales told King 5 News. “This is my son’s life we’re talking about.”

Logan’s former principal, Kate Schreck, said she witnessed Roxie’s poor performance at school.

“To me she appeared to be in puppy mode,” Schreck said. “She wouldn’t even find the jar of peanut butter we would use as a test for her in the classroom.”

“She’s my best friend,” Logan said.

He still loves Roxie, but his mother says she’s just an expensive house pet at this point.

A dog trainer of 35 years, Sean Hartley told the CBS affiliate that Roxie doesn’t have the right personality to work as a service animal. He says she was always easily distracted.

“Roxie was not ready,” Hartley told CBS4.

He says he told Sherry Mers, the owner of Angel Service Dogs, about his concerns but the dog was sold anyway. He since left the company.

“It looked like it started to become more about the money than the product we were putting out, and not about the kids,” Hartley said.

He began working privately to train and sell service dogs for people with nut allergies.

“The dogs that are sweeping in front of the President [of the U.S.] cost roughly between $10,000 and $15,000 and that’s with 12 odors…working for the President,” Hartley said. “I couldn’t understand how someone could charge so much for a dog working one odor.”

CBS Denver says it attempted to contact Mers for comment on their report but the calls were not returned.

Sources: CBS Denver, King 5 News

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons / Zipster969, pawsitivityservicedogs.com