by Denise Carey-Costa
In the land of the free and the home of the brave, a Purple Heart receiving marine must fight for the freedom of his PTSD service dog. The battle has been ongoing in DuPage County, Illinois and the next court hearing is August 13th and 14th 2020.
Jordan, an eight-year old Boxer had the “aggressive dog” stigma first placed on him when he was an eight-month-old puppy and had the misfortune of ending up at the Devore shelter in San Bernardino County, California. He was brought in as a stray, and because he barked at other dogs, (a normal reaction for a fearful pup in new surroundings) he was given the label of “dog aggressive.”
Peter Cangelosi, who runs a group known as Pets and Vets USA, a non-profit charity which rescues and trains emotional support and service dogs for disabled veterans, rescued Jordan and had him transported to Illinois. After working with and knowing Jordan, Peter will strongly argue that Jordan was mislabeled as aggressive. He stated he has many photos of Jordan with other dogs and there have not been any bite incidents.
Fast forward to November 10, 2018 when Jordan was at an Illinois Petsmart with Peter and Pets and Vets USA. There was a couple walking through the store that day carrying a small dog in their arms. The small dog barked excessively at every dog it passed. A dog handler for Pets and Vets USA took Jordan outside for a bathroom break. They walked out behind the couple with the small, barking dog. Another customer was coming up the walkway into the store, so Jordan’s handler had Jordan sit. At the same time, the couple set the small dog down right outside the door. The little dog immediately started barking, and according to the Petsmart security video, the small dog tried to bite Jordan.
Jordan grabbed hold of the small dog and held onto it. He did not shake the smaller dog or harm it, and the dog was not seriously injured. However, the local police and DuPage County Animal Control were called to the scene. There were four witnesses who corroborated what was seen on the videotape; that the smaller dog was the aggressor. One witness who claimed Jordan was the aggressor recanted her statement when called to testify in court.
DuPage County Animal Control, allegedly known as the worst county animal control and the worst for pit bulls in the state of Illinois, did not even bother to interview the people who witnessed the incident, nor did they have an animal behaviorist assess Jordan to confirm their label of him was accurate. They also falsely labeled him a pit bull when he is a Boxer mix.
Instead, because Jordan was the larger dog and resembled a pit bull, he received a dangerous dog designation on December 13, 2018. This translated to Jordan having to wear a muzzle every time he leaves the Pets and Vets USA property.
Peter Cangelosi and Pets and Vets USA immediately challenged the label and started a fight to have the dangerous dog designation removed. He hired Harry Smith, the number one criminal trial attorney in DuPage county, along with Anna Morrison-Ricordati, the number one animal rights attorney in the state of Illinois. They also procured the help of a renowned Veterinary Behaviorist from Perdue University who assessed Jordan and further confirmed he was not dog aggressive.
On May 9, 2020, a wounded veteran named Joe and his girlfriend were looking to adopt a dog as a PTSD service dog for Joe. Initially they had a German Shepherd in mind. When they got to the local shelter, not only were they treated rudely, but the dog they were interested in was not even there. This prompted the girlfriend to suggest Pets and Vets USA knowing of their work training dogs for veterans.
When they arrived, Peter was working with a few other interested adopters. However, when Jordan first interacted with Joe and his girlfriend there was an immediate connection, and Joe fell in love with Jordan.
They told Peter they wanted Jordan and Peter disclosed to them the dangerous dog designation and that Jordan must wear a muzzle whenever he is off property. Peter also told the story of what happened between Jordan and the smaller dog and that they are fighting for Jordan to have the dangerous dog designation removed. Joe was more than willing to join the fight for Jordan and to have Jordan as his PTSD service dog.
If Peter Cangelosi wins his case for Jordan, it will set a groundbreaking precedent. It will be the first time a dangerous dog designation has been reversed in DuPage County and hopefully set a precedent for other pit bulls and bully breeds who are so often mislabeled.
When that happens and if that happens, Jordan will be fully trained as a PTSD service dog for Joe.
Jordan has a strong legal team as well as the backing of the US Marines, Peter Cangelosi and Joe to fight for his freedom.
It is a sad reflection on how our country treats its veterans when a highly decorated marine who put his life on the line multiple times to protect the freedom of each one of us has to fight so hard for the freedom of his service dog. And a sad reflection on a county animal control that does not even conduct a fair and thorough investigation before deeming a dog dangerous.
It’s time for change on how our veterans are treated and how dogs, mainly Pit Bulls are treated and viewed by shelters and the public. To join in the fight for Jordan and Joe, sign the below petition.
There is also a GOFUNDME set up to help defray the legal costs which have now reached $30,000.00
*This story was originally published in Pet Rescue Report.