Crime & Courts

Deaf boy’s service dog-in-training killed in alleged Anchorage hit-and-run

Anchorage police are seeking a driver whose pickup they said struck and killed a young boy's dog in East Anchorage on Thursday, then left the scene.

The boy's family said the boy is deaf and the dog was being trained as a service animal.

Police spokeswoman Renee Oistad said reports of the hit-and-run collision, near Boniface Parkway and East 22nd Avenue, came in just before 11:45 a.m. Thursday.

"The 12-year-old boy who was walking the dog told police that he let go of the leash when the dog was struck," Oistad wrote. "The boy was not injured."

Oistad said officers also spoke with a man who arrived at the scene shortly after the dog was killed.

"According to that witness, the dog was deceased in the roadway when he saw the boy run up to the dog," Oistad wrote. "It appeared to the witness that the dog had gotten away from the boy, ran out into the road, and was struck."

Valerie Anderson said her son, Jean Paul "J.J." Anderson, was the boy whose dog was struck. The family got the dog, a golden Lab named Scooby-Doo, from a Wasilla breeder and family friend as an 8-week-old puppy; it was being trained as a service dog for J.J., who is deaf and suffers seizures.

"After he got (to the age of) 1 and matured a little more, we were going to make him a companion service dog," Valerie Anderson said. "He detected the first seizure when he was 6 months old."

Family members haven't heard much more detail from J.J. about the truck that struck Scooby-Doo, according to his sister Amanda.

"It was a big pickup truck that was black, and there was a gentleman driving the truck, and that's all he could tell us," Amanda Anderson said.

Alaska Pretrial Services director Dennis Johnson, who works with Valerie Anderson, wrote an irate message late Thursday about the collision that was posted to the Anchorage Scanner Joe Facebook page. Johnson accuses the motorist of being "soulless."

"After you sped away like a coward, that boy laid in the road holding his dog as he died in his arms," Johnson wrote. "APD was wonderful today and I know from the great eyewitness reports that it's only a matter of time for you."

Violation of the requirement to stop is a minor offense, which carries a citation and a $500 fine. Oistad said no element of the collision, as described to police, warrants criminal charges.

"The person who struck the dog should have stopped," Oistad said.

The community is already offering support to the family, including dozens of comments on Johnson's Facebook post. The family says one woman has already offered to buy J.J. a puppy, for training as a service dog to replace Scooby-Doo.

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.