North Port man has service dog taken from him

Posted at 10:31 PM, Jan 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 13:42:23-05

A Gulf War veteran says a misunderstanding led to volunteers taking away his service dog.

"It's been rough.  That dog has been at my hip for three years, now he's gone and I have that empty feeling inside me," said former marine James Boyle.

Boyle received "Deuces" a black lab three years ago from Southeastern Guide Dogs to help him cope with PTSD.

Volunteers from the Palmetto, Florida based group visited his home just before Thanksgiving and asked him to tend to an ear infection Deuces had.  They also wanted him to help the dog lose weight.

"If the handler is unable to take care of them properly, then we have the responsibility to be the advocate for the dogs," said Southeastern Spokesperson Ruth Lando.

Boyle says the volunteers gave him until January 4th to take care of Deuce's ear infection.  He scheduled a vet appointment for January 2nd, so he was surprised when the volunteers came back right before the holidays.

"When I looked out the door and I seen them, one of them was getting a leash out and I knew she was going to take him."

Boyle says it's been tough coping with his anxiety, without Deuces. "I want my dog back.  It's that simple, I don't want another dog."

Southeastern Guide dogs says it is highly unlikely Boyle will get his service dog back.  The group's spokesperson says their clients sign contracts stating they will bear all responsibility related to the animal's health.