Tuesday, September 15, 2015


<div class="source">contributed</div><div class="image-desc">JoJo, a Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix, is recovering after being attacked by a service dog on Saturday at The Brunswick Beacon's Outdoor Living Show.</div><div class="buy-pic"></div>

By Laura LewisReporter

A small dog is recovering after being bitten and injured in an attack by a Canine Angels service dog last Saturday at a show sponsored by The Brunswick Beacon.  The Jack Russell/Chihuahua mixed breed dog was taken for treatment by a local veterinarian shortly after the attack Saturday morning at the Beacon’s Outdoor Living Show at Shallotte Middle School.

Kindle Hewett, husband of Beacon advertising executive Anne Hewett, was walking their dog JoJo on a leash outside at the Sept. 12 show when  DIVA, A PIT BULL  that is one of the Canine Angels service dogs, attacked the smaller dog, causing several severe bite wounds that required stitches by a local veterinarian. Kindle Hewett also suffered a bite wound while trying to rescue JoJo.

Canine Angels founder and president Rick Kaplan said the incident was “absolutely” the first time something like that had happened involving his dogs.

“I’m responsible because I took my eyes off the situation for a second,” he said.

Kaplan said he had his dogs set up on the grass under a canopy when Hewett came along with his dog on an extender leash.  Kaplan said he did not know what happened, who “barked or growled,” to trigger the attack. He added there is no excuse for what happened, but he thought the “little scuffle” was exacerbated by JoJo’s extended leash, which he said Diva and two of his other dogs got tangled in.

He said JoJo “took a couple of puncture wounds.  I rushed to the vet and paid for everything,” he said.

After the incident, Kaplan and his dogs left the show.

In his five years involvement with Canine Angels, Kaplan said one of the things he stresses is “we choose dogs that don’t have aggression.”  He said,  "Diva has no history of aggression.  She sleeps with my grandson and accepts all dogs that come in,” he said, adding he has had Diva for the past three years.  For now, he said, he is removing Diva from service.

Lt. Tommy Tolley, director of Brunswick County Sheriff’s Animal Protective Services, said one of his on-call officers responded to Saturday’s incident.  Because Kaplan and his dogs live in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., the incident was reported to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, which has jurisdiction over putting Diva in quarantine, Tolley said. Kaplan said Monday that had not yet occurred.

Tolley said it had also been verified Diva was up-to-date on her rabies vaccination.

Kaplan said he was happy JoJo wasn’t permanently injured. 

Kindle Hewett said his family has received great response from the sheriff’s office, Horry County, S.C., animal control and “really the whole community” after the attack.

Kaplan said Canine Angels is a 501(c)(3) organization registered in South Carolina and federally. He said his organization has rescued and worked with hundreds of dogs to train and make them of use to veterans.

After Saturday’s incident, Kaplan said his annual appearance at this year’s Sunset at Sunset celebration, scheduled for Oct. 3, was cancelled.

Sunset at Sunset organizer Karen Joseph confirmed Monday the Canine Angels appearance was cancelled after her committee learned about Saturday’s incident and discussed it.

“We just feel that neither Sunset at Sunset nor the town of Sunset Beach can take on such a liability,” Joseph said.
 “It’s unfortunate all the way around, but when you’re dealing with animals you can’t control everything. We have to put the safety of everyone first.”

She added Kaplan may have to put his dogs on leashes from now on in order to participate in such events in the future.
Kaplan said he’s pretty sure “we’re out of business” now that word has gotten out about the incident. He previously proposed creating a “fence situation” to keep his dogs in an enclosed area at the upcoming festival.

“Once bad news gets out, you’re done,” said Kaplan, adding he “gave up my whole life to do this” — rescuing homeless dogs and transforming them into service dogs.


The letter we posted last night seems to have caused some confusion. It's sole intent was to communicate that Canine Angels takes full responsibility for the actions of our dogs last weekend. We spoke with Kindle Hewitt, the gentleman who attended the event with his dog, JoJo, where Diva initiated the scuffle.
Mr. Hewitt felt that our post did not stress that his dog was under his control and did not provoke the incident in any way. We repeat, the retractable leash did not cause the problem. Neither Mr. Hewitt nor JoJo was not at fault. We did not mean to convey anything else. We wanted to share the message Anne Hewitt left last night:
Hopefully my words will be read by all who have made comments and created scenarios in their head and felt it was necessary to place any blame on my dog. It saddens me that many who have commented on this have made inaccurate assumptions. My husband was nearly 40 feet away and the leash WAS not retracted out . She was at his heels. She did not look at the pack or provoke anything. Rick has graciously apologized over and over and taken full responsibility for this and paid her vet bills. He offered to do that immediately. In fact, he was at the vet's office when my husband got there. We are blessed that her wounds will heal. We are blessed for the support we have gotten.Thank you everyone and thank you Rick.


James Lee said...

what good is a service dog that cant be trusted around other dogs ?

i dont trust any pitbull types around my dog(s) because not only are they known for attacks , they are surely going to do damage beyond what is normal and forgivable compared to other types of dogs .

just as wolf hybrids should not be used as real service dogs , pitbulls are also a crappy choice for this .

it aint rocket science , just common sense that aint so common these days .

Dayna Hamilton said...

"She added Kaplan may have to put his dogs on leashes from now on in order to participate in such events in the future."

That they weren't already on leashes speaks VOLUMES of this organization.
I hope it does go out of business, adopting out "service" pit bulls is insane.

Anonymous said...

James Lee,

You hit the nail on the head. I do not understand people that use dog aggressive dogs as therapy dogs, service dogs, companion dogs, however you want to label them.

And now that the bad word got out, it's over for this pop tart. Who cares?! Switch to normal dogs.

Farmer Jane said...

You all are so right. I will never understand the reasoning they used to decide that a pit bull would make a good service dog, especially for a veteran. On one hand you have a person who has most likely seen combat. To require a service dog of this sort (I don't imagine these dogs are trained to help a physically handicapped person) a veteran probably has PTSD. On the other hand you have a breed of dog that is statistically responsible for more maulings and deaths than all other breeds of dogs combined. How could this ever be expected to work?
Also, this man was quick to claim that this was absolutely the first time something like this has happened. I have found from experience that pit nutters are some of the biggest liars that I have ever met. I have to wonder if his pants are on fire.

Dayna Hamilton said...

Wow! Look at THOSE reptile eyes! That pic wasn't available the first time I read the story! If I were a vet with PTSD, the last thing I'd want was those eyes staring me down!

Kris Mikula said...

In comments yesterday on the Canine Angels Service Dogs FB page:
How are Diva and Jo Jo doing?
Like · Reply · 18 hrs
Canine Angels Service Dogs
Canine Angels Service Dogs Jojo. Is steadily improving and milking her family for hugs, they tell us. Diva's quarantine is over and she will be carefully evaluated and hopefully placed in the perfect situation.


I have no doubt Rick Kaplan is an excellent dog trainer (even if he is showing an astounding lack of common sense where Diva is concerned). The fact that someone with his experience couldn't control this dog should tell the average dog owner something about the BREED.

bruce catlin said...

There seems to be more and more small service dog training organizations like this one popping up every year. If you look at some of their sites (including this mans) you will see a common theme, they put as much, or more emphasis on the fact they are saving rescue dogs than they do the clients that they are trained to help. Then the " I'm the ulimate dog trainer" syndrome gets thrown in and this is what happens. Mix ego and bad judgment together and you have 5 dogs off leash at a public venue. I have nothing against any breed of dog but there is a reason the largest organizations use labs, golden retrievers. First is they are generally the best dog for most clients in a broad number of ways. Secondly many excell at this kind of work. I would never consider training a pit bull for service work (I'm a trainer) only for the fact that about 5-8 pecent of the general population have strong negative reaction to dogs (phobias- fears-general animal dislike-ect.) Using pits or any number of other none traditional breeds only raises this percentage Your main concern, as it should be, is giving a person, and your/their dog, the best chance of success with your best effort

Anonymous said...

The poor dogs Canine Angels trains are trained with SHOCK COLLARS. This organization should be shut down, this is NOT the way any dog should be trained, service dog or not.

Anonymous said...

Service dogs should be reserved for the breeds that are known for their natural instinct as companions such as retrievers etc. These breeds have been bred for years through bloodlines for the specific use of being the best companion rather it be for hunting or in the home as a part of the family. Dogs such as Pits have a long way to bred the aggressiveness out of them, if it can ever be done. One good example is one of our English Setters, when looking at the litter for a pup, the breeder was very explicit about relaying to us that his line of setters were "true" hunters in the field. What he meant by this was that the breeding stock was genetically engineered for dogs that had a very strong hunting instinct and this was so obvious when we got our pup home and by the age of 9 weeks he was pointing in stance at anything that moved. Genetics, breeding bloodlines has so much to do with the result.