Trainer refuses to return $20k service dog to girl (4 p.m.) 9NEWS at 4 p.m. 07/21/14.
An 11-year-old girl with diabetes who lives in Arkansas is missing her service dog, Major. That's because investigators say an Arvada dog trainer won't give him back.
"He saved me. He helped me. We bonded," Alayna Barnes said. "He was my best friend."
Barnes was diagnosed with type I juvenile diabetes when she was 6 years old. Her parents say she depends on an insulin pump and doesn't feel when her blood sugar drops, a potentially fatal symptom of the disease.
Alayna's parents, Amanda and Edmond Barnes, decided one way to keep their daughter safe was to get a service dog.
Their small community in Arkansas, between Little Rock and Memphis, started raising the $20,000 it would cost to get a dog like that.
Someone recommended they get the dog from Julie Noyes of Alert Dogs for Life. She is from Colorado. According to the Colorado Secretary of State's website, Alert Dogs for Life registered with the state in April 2013.
The Barnes' say they agreed to purchase the dog from Noyes in July of 2013 and paid $500 to get started.
WEB EXTRA: Major interacting with Alayna. 9NEWS.com. 07/21/14.
Noyes asked them to sign a contract in December of 2013. The contract stipulated a number of things, including if the dog was physically and emotionally abused, neglected or misused, it would be removed from the family and no refund would be issued.
Reluctantly, the family signed the contract.
"What do you do? Do you sign it?" Edmond Barnes said. "Do you lose your money that you've already put into it? You don't know what to do at that point."
Major arrived on March 24, 2014, and the family says they fell in love.
They tried to work through the fact that he wasn't doing exactly what they needed him to do.
"He was detecting some [low blood sugar], but he wasn't detecting 30 minutes ahead," Barnes said. "He was supposed to be a finished dog, already doing all this when we got him here. We were still having to train him basically on our own."
The family said they reached out to Noyes. She asked for Major to be shipped back for some additional work, and on July 5, 2014, the family did just that.
The Barnes' say Major got a clean bill of health from their vet and their groomer before he was shipped to Noyes.
Barnes told 9NEWS Noyes stopped answering their calls shortly after Major arrived in Arvada.
Amanda Barnes went to the local sheriff to figure out what to do.
St. Francis County Sheriff Bobby May told 9NEWS he called Noyes himself. She didn't call him back, her attorney did.
"They were going to keep the dog and the money too," Sheriff May told 9NEWS. "I told [Noyes attorney] that's not lawful. He can't do that."
"They alleged the dog had been beaten with a belt," Sheriff May said. "That's a lie. The dog's not been beaten with a belt. He said they'd taken it to some vet. [Their vet] said there's belt welts on it. That's just a lie. That's ridiculous. The dog was not beaten."
Based on an arrest affidavit, an Arkansas judge signed a warrant for Noyes' arrest. She was arrested by Jefferson County deputies Thursday and taken to jail. She is out on bond. She's facing theft charges in connection with the incident.
"We raised, I even donated myself, $20,000 in order to get the dog for the child," Sheriff May said. "We're just not going to allow someone because they're out of state to treat people this way."
When reached by phone and email Monday, Noyes' attorney told 9NEWS: "Ms. Noyes has vet records of her own showing the dog has been abused. It truly is an unfortunate situation."
9NEWS stopped by Noyes' Arvada home, called and texted her, but hasn't heard back.
For the Barnes', they say they don't want their $20,000 back; they want their dog back.
"He went to school with her. He went to town with her. He's in their class picture," Amanda Barnes said. "There is no way you'd pay $20,000 for a dog for your child and abuse it in any way."
Sheriff May says he's working on extraditing Noyes to Arkansas so she could face charges. The case is now in the hands of the court.