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Anchorage police will not cite driver in death of boy's service dog in training

  • Author: Jerzy Shedlock
  • Updated: October 5, 2016
  • Published October 5, 2016

The driver of a pickup that struck and killed a service dog in training last week in East Anchorage will not be cited because he immediately reported the accident, police said Tuesday.

Anchorage Police Department spokesperson Renee Oistad said the driver was northbound on Boniface Parkway near East 22nd Avenue just before 11:45 a.m. Thursday when the pickup hit a dog that ran into his lane. A 12-year-old boy had been walking the dog.

"(The driver) saw the dog was deceased — he did not see any people around," Oistad said in an email.

The man pulled off the road at a nearby Holiday gas station and called Anchorage Animal Care and Control to report the collision, Oistad said.

Family members of 12-year-old J.J. Anderson say Scooby-Doo, a dog that was being trained as a service dog for Anderson’s deafness and seizures, was struck and killed by a driver in East Anchorage on Sept. 29. (Courtesy Anderson family)

An animal control officer responded and retrieved the dog, a yellow Labrador named Scooby Doo. The dog was identified by a microchip, said animal control public relations coordinator Laura Atwood. The animal control officer forwarded the driver's number to the police department, she said.

The driver was not on scene when the officer picked up the dog's remains, Atwood said.

A police officer contacted him the following day, according to Oistad.

"The driver has not and will not be cited as he immediately self-reported the collision as required. There was nothing criminal involved in what happened," Oistad said.

The boy who had been walking the dog, J.J. Anderson, told police he let go of its leash when it was hit in the road, Oistad said. A witness reported seeing the dog dead in the roadway and a boy running up to the dog.

Both the driver and the witness said the dog was in the roadway without someone hanging onto its leash at the time of the collision, Oistad said.

Valerie Anderson, J.J.'s mother, said she is frustrated the driver did not return to the scene and drove a half-mile before reporting the accident. She said Scooby Doo was to be trained as a service dog for J.J., who is hearing-impaired and suffers seizures.

She said officers told her the driver opted not to return to the scene when instructed because he was too upset by the accident.

Attempts to contact the driver were unsuccessful.

Valerie Anderson said she believes the impact dragged or pushed Scooby down the street. "J.J. was close by, but (the driver) was focused on what he hit. He didn't even see my son. For me, most people would stop and see what they hit.

"He didn't stop. He kept going."

Valerie Anderson with her son J.J. Anderson, 12, holding his new puppy, Xena, with Mitchell Wilcoxon Sr., who gave the puppy to the family, at Cheney Lake in East Anchorage on Sunday. (Courtesy Valerie Anderson)

The lack of consequences for the driver upsets Valerie Anderson, but she said she wants to focus on an act of kindness that resulted from Scooby Doo's death. A man who saw news reports of the accident contacted Anderson and offered to give her family a puppy.

The family met with the donor, Mitchell Wilcoxon Sr., at Cheney Lake on Sunday, and J.J. immediately bonded with the 6-week-old puppy, his mother said.

"Her name is Xena, like the warrior princess," Valerie Anderson said. "It's going well. She's smart, already on regular food and house-trained."

Her son still gets upset about Scooby Doo's death, Anderson said. He believed he killed the dog because it got away from him, she said. Anderson said she told her son that accidents happen, which has helped him understand the situation.

Anderson said she intends to have Xena trained as a service dog to help her son, who has cochlear implants to improve his hearing.

That will have to wait until the pup is 6 months old and neutered, but a dog trainer in Mat-Su has already offered the service for free, she said.

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