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Service Dog for Girl With Brain Cancer Bites Another Child

(Update April 27: The case has been decided. See the latest Dogster post here.) The service dog of a 9-year-old New Jersey girl with brain...

Maria Goodavage  |  Apr 22nd 2011


(Update April 27: The case has been decided. See the latest Dogster post here.)

The service dog of a 9-year-old New Jersey girl with brain cancer may never go home again after the dog bit a 6-year-old neighbor on the face three weeks ago. The girl needed 100 stitches to close the wounds on her face, is not sleeping well, and is frightened to go outside, her parents say. She is getting therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The dog, Ava, has been quarantined since the incident. Ava was on leash with Molly Kimball’s mom, Patricia Kimball, when she bit Isabelle Gernhardt.

Molly Kimball got Ava as her service dog a year ago, according to WABC. Molly has had six surgeries for her brain cancer, and receives chemotherapy every week. “Everything makes me feel comfortable when she’s there,” says Molly.

Ava’s role in Molly’s life goes beyond that of a companion animal. The dog has been trained to prevent Molly from falling when she shows signs of the dizziness she gets from her brain tumors.

The two sides of the story differ greatly, of course. The Kimballs maintain that Ava was playing a friendly game of hide-and-seek with the Isabelle when instead of licking her when she found her, as the Kimballs’ lawyer says she has done in the past, she somehow bit her. Isabelle’s parents say that’s not the case.

“My daughter was standing eight feet away and the dog just lunged forward and ripped most of her nose off, Isabelle’s mother, Elizabeth Gernhardt, told NorthJersey.com.

If the judge declares the dog should be put down, thats the judges decision, Gernhardt said. After 11 months of service training, a service dog should not lunge.

A judge is scheduled to decide Ava’s fate next Tuesday night.

This is a very sad situation for all concerned. Dogsters, you always have good insights on issues with service dogs. Please bark back with your thoughts. (If you want to see a few more details on the incident and a photo of Isabelle’s wound, click on the North Jersey link. Just a heads up: The photo may be disturbing if you are sensitive to these things.)