OAK HARBOR, Wash.—Logan Gonzales loves his loves his Labradoodle, Roxie. The two have a very special relationship that goes beyond just a boy and his dog.
“She’s my best friend,” Logan said.
Logan suffers severe peanut allergies. Roxie is supposed to sniff them out before he comes in contact, but since they got her, Roxie has not been up to snuff.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, she wouldn’t even be on the scale for a service dog,” said Logan’s mother, Judie.
The family’s Oak Harbor community rallied around Logan when they helped him raise $17,000 to buy Roxie from Colorado’s “Angel Service Dogs” in 2009 ($12,500 for the dog and the rest for travel expenses).
Since she arrived, however, the family says she is unable to focus on peanuts while in public.
“She gets very distracted by what’s going on around her and doesn’t do her job,” said Logan.
As a test, we dumped a pound of peanuts on a picnic table while Logan played nearby. His mom encouraged the dog to find them, but Roxie walked right by. We even stuck the bag of peanuts right under Roxie’s nose. She should’ve sat down as an alert, but gave no reaction.
“We were told she would be able to pick up peanut residue on your fingers,” said Judie. “This is my son’s life we’re talking about.”
For the family, the sweet dog that was supposed to make things better has been a bust.
“I thought I was the only one,” said Judie, wiping away tears. “I thought I failed my family, my community, the dog. They made me believe it was my fault.”
The Gonzaleses are not the only ones. In fact, there are several cases across the country where people bought animals from Angel Service Dogs that didn’t do what they were supposed to do. Independent veterinary reports cite problems with “aggression,” “separation anxiety” and a “lack of training.”
Logan’s former principal confirms the dog’s poor performance when the boy would bring her to school.
“To me she appeared to be in puppy mode,” said Kate Schreck. “She wouldn’t even find the jar of peanut butter we would use as a test for her in the classroom.”
The family says Angel Service dogs did work with them initially to better train Roxie. Company officials then said they would retrain the dog for an additional $2,500, according to the family. The Gonzaleses are not willing to pay.
“They need to make good on this,” said Judie. “I just want my son to live as normal a life as possible.”
For now, the family feels embarrassed and betrayed that the community gave so much, only to be let down.
“I mean, they sold my family and this community on a dream, and that dream just is not a reality,” said Judie.
Calls and e-mails to Angel Service Dogs were not returned on Wednesday.