On the morning of August 24th, 2016, Christopher Sawa looked out his kitchen window to see the lifeless body of his precious Pomeranian lying dead in his yard. Standing over his 14 pound pup was the neighbor’s dog, a 90 pound, hip-high, muscular Belgian Malinois named Jeb — a service dog for Sawa’s neighbor. The neighbor, Kenneth Job, has a neurodegenerative disease and relies on Jeb the dog to help him with his mobility.
It’s understandable why the neighbor fingered Jeb. He was at the scene, and his strong teeth could theoretically do harm to the tiny Pomeranian.
But Jeb’s owners, who recently told their story to CNN, insisted from the start that their dog was not capable of such an act. Jeb was a rescue dog who was recovered and trained to be a service dog for Kenneth Job. Still, Jeb was taken into animal control custody. His trial was held on September 19, 2016 in the St. Clair County, MI court house.
At issue was whether Jeb was a “dangerous animal.” If Judge Michael Hulewicz made such a finding, Jeb would be put to death. At the trial, the neighborhood vet reportedly testified that an unfriendly dog had been lurking in the neighborhood and foxes lived in the woods. Although that testimony injected some reasonable doubt, the judge found that Jeb met the definition of a dangerous animal.
Stunned by the decision, the Job family asked for DNA testing to see if their dog’s DNA matched genetic material in the Pomeranian’s wound. Fortunately, Vlad the Pomeranian’s body had been preserved and was available for testing.
The Job family invested $416 and waited another month for the results. When they finally arrived, it was what the family had been hoping for: The DNA in the smaller dog’s wound did not match the DNA in the larger dog’s saliva.
Jeb was not the killer dog. The real killer remains a mystery.
After two months in “animal custody,” Jeb was able to come home and resume his role as helper to his human. As a condition of his return, family had to agree to ensure the dog remain on the property, secured by a fence, and that they would never let him leave the yard unleashed.
Jeb’s imprisonment took its toll. He went from 90 to 75 pounds and became scared and skittish. He continues to navigate an adjustment period at home.
Photo: Facebook screenshot/Free Jeb