DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado Attorney General’s Office is currently looking into several reports that a Colorado Springs organization is selling service dogs that are not properly trained. Meanwhile a new family has come forward making the same claim.
CBS4 first started reporting on Angel Service Dogs in 2014 after talking to a half-dozen families who say they paid thousands of dollars for dogs that were supposed to detect peanuts, but they said that the dogs were untrained. Now a new family has come forward saying they paid $17,000 to Angel Service Dogs, but have no dog to show for it.
Robyn Hurd bought the dog for her 6-year-old son, Rory.
“His heart was set on this. It was all he talked about for a very long time,” Hurd told CBS4.
Rory suffers from peanut allergies. The service dog, Sport, was supposed to be a line of defense against having an allergic reaction.
“It’s definitely life and death, every waking moment. I don’t know many parents who go in every single night to see if their child is breathing, but I do,” Hurd explained.
As Sport graduated from the Angel Service Dog program, Hurd took him to long-time dog trainer, Kathlyn Ross, for a test. Ross had once trained a dog for Angel Service Dogs.
“I had her handle the dog because this wasn’t my dog,” Ross explained to CBS4.
Ross took cellphone video of Sport walking through the grocery store.
“You’re not supposed to guide a detection dog. They should go freely and then alert at what they’re supposed to alert to,” Ross further explained.
The video shows Sport wandering through the store past bins of nuts, but never acknowledging them. Even a three-pound bag of peanuts didn’t cause the dog to pause.
“I was really shocked that he, even being five feet away, wasn’t showing any change in behavior at all,” Ross said.
“Did he ever stop at a bag of peanuts?” asked CBS4 reporter Suzanne McCarroll.
“No,” Ross replied.
Hurd immediately took the animal back to the owner of Angel Service Dogs.
“I grabbed his leash and gave it to Sherry and said, ‘Here is your dog back.’” Hurd recalled. “I said, ‘I want a refund. I want all my money back.’”
The owner of Angel Service Dogs sent CBS4 another phone video which she says shows a different story about the same dog. Through an attorney, Sherry Mers says that the video shows Sport both being trained and detecting nuts. In a written statement to CBS4, she said that Hurd failed to follow directions after receiving the dog. Mers said that another family has since had success with Sport.
“We don’t look at pictures of the dog anymore because it makes me really sad,” Hurd said.
Four months after returning Sport, Robyn is still waiting for her $17,000.
Libby Smith is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. If you have a story you’d like to tell CBS4 about, call 303-863-TIPS (8477) or visit the News Tips section.