$17,000 spent on service dog that doesn't work

by: Henry Rosoff Updated:

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OAK HARBOR, Wash. - Logan Gonzales, 12, has a severe nut allergy. If he even gets close to any nut product, he could die.

“My throat closes and my tongue gets really big,” he said.

Logan’s mom and dad, Judie and Derick Gonzales, got a labradoodle named Roxie to sniff out potential threats and warn Logan.

“We had hopes this was going to change his life,” Judie said.

In 2009, the community of Oak Harbor rallied around the family to raise $17,000 to buy and train Roxie, and then fly the famly to Colorado Springs to get Roxie at Angel Service Dogs.

However, once Roxie got home, she had trouble finding nuts amidst every day distractions like people talking or car noises.

“If there’s no distraction she’s pretty good at it. You add distractions, she’ll never do it,” Judie said.

Even the family vet, Erica Syring, noticed something was wrong with Roxie.

“She had parasites, round worms and advanced dental disease,” Syring said.

The vet also said other service dogs she treats are much calmer, while “Roxie’s nervous, she gets scared, and when she’s here, she’s anxious.”

Other families from at least five states across the country have reported similar issues with Angel Service Dogs.  However, founder Sherry Mers said via Skype that  most of her customers are happy with their dogs.

Mers blamed the families without working dogs for not following up training once they got home.  She also provided medical records for Roxie, showing the dog was well cared for.

The Gonzales family said it did follow up with training and the dog only became more skittish.

So KIRO 7 put Roxie to the test by hiding nut products all around a park.  Some were near distracting things like a basketball game; others were in isolated areas.  Roxie walked by them all.

“Sooner or later, unfortunately, a family is going to rely on these dogs to protect their kids and kids going to die,” Judie said.

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