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Jeb, a Belgian Malinois service dog for an elderly Michigan man, was accused of killing another dog and sentenced to die, until a simple cheek swab proved his innocence and saved his life.
Penny Job met 1-year old Jeb in January of last year after rescuers found him chained inside a shed, all but abandoned by the owners that no longer wanted him. The moment they met, Penny knew Jeb would make the perfect service dog for her father, Kenneth, a 79-year old Air Force veteran living with a neurodegenerative disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth. Jeb came to the family’s rural home in St. Claire, Michigan to live with three other dogs, seven cats and a coopful of chickens while being trained to assist Kenneth as his service dog.
According to court testimony, on the morning of August 24, 2016, the Jobs’ neighbor, Christopher Sawa, looked out his kitchen window and saw 90-pound Jeb standing over the body of his own dog, a 14-pound Pomeranian named Vlad. Vlad was dead.
Sawa immediately contacted Animal Control who took Jeb into custody while an investigation was launched.
Although witnesses testified that an unfriendly stray dog had been spotted in the neighborhood as well as foxes in nearby woods, and the Job family’s insistence that Jeb, who lived harmoniously with several other animals and chickens, could not have killed Vlad, Judge Michael Hulewicz deemed Jeb a “dangerous animal” and sentenced him to be euthanized.
In a final effort to save the life of their beloved family member and service dog, the Jobs requested that a DNA test be performed to determine if Jeb’s DNA matched DNA found in Vlad’s bite wounds.
The $416 medical test would prove that Jeb was not responsible for Vlad’s death. Jeb’s life was spared and the dog returned home a week later, although the 9 weeks he spent in the shelter kennel have drastically changed him, both in appearance and in demeanor. Now, 3 months after returning home, Jeb is still adjusting. He’s gained back most of the 15-pounds he lost while in custody of Animal Control, but he’s still apprehensive of strangers.
The Jobs, to this day, wonder why DNA testing to prove their dog’s innocence wasn’t an option up front, why their dog had to spend more than 2-months imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit when a test was available to prove his innocence. The Jobs, and David Favre, a professor at Michigan State University College of Law and editor in chief of the Animal Legal and Historical Center, hope the publicity from this case helps other dog owners looking to defend their dogs in similar cases.
It is still unknown what animal was responsible for Vlad’s death.