A service-dog-in-training is in the middle of a nasty New Jersey neighbors dispute, and now a 9-year-old girl with brain cancer may be losing her best friend forever. Last month Ava, Molly Kimball's service dog, bit the face of Molly's 6-year-old neighbor Isabelle, leaving the latter with a scar down her face and 100 stitches (you can see a graphic post-attack image here). Now Ava is in a shelter with her fate being decided by a judge later today.

The Kimball's describe their 14-month-old dog as a kind animal who helps Molly deal with dizziness—a side effect of the tumors in her brain (she's so far had six surgeries to try and deal with them). “When Ava goes and wakes Molly up, she rolls out of bed with a smile on her face and comes down and takes her medication,” said her Molly's father, Paul Kimball.

The family swears last months incident was an accident exacerbated by the choker coller the dog was wearing. The family's lawyer explains their side of the story as this:

“The young lady next door, af­ter a year of knowing the dog, has a game of hide-and-seek [with Ava] and hid behind her mom’s legs. The dog is trained to give a little kiss or lick when they find the person. It’s a weird situation. The dog was get­ting close, and was on a leash at­tached to a choker collar.”
[Lawyer] Anton said that when the dog went to playfully lick Isabelle’s face, “the choker collar caused a restriction on the neck that causes the mouth to close.”


The lawyer fully expects the family to be sued over the accident, but wants leniency for the dog who he says is a first time offender.

But according to Isabelle's family that was not the case at all. Instead, they claim the little girl has been terrified of the dog for a year since it attacked her brother. Further, they say the dog was not on a leash and was in their yard unattended and in no way playing with Isabelle (though they also have been quoted saying the dog was leashed). To be fair, the family says they don't want Ava to be put down, they just don't want it living next door to them.

Since the incident the dog has been in a private shelter while its fate is decided, Isabelle has been "getting therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder" and Molly? She just wants her dog back.