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Service Dog for Military Homeless Veteran Quarantined

A homeless military veteran is asking for help after she says animal control officers took her service dog away.

Santa Barbara police say Melody Baker’s dog bit someone at Alameda Park on Oct. 15 and the dog had to be quarantined by law.

Baker says her 3 1/2-year-old dog Reno was protecting her when a homeless man tried to attack her. She says Reno never bit the man.

Police say they sent officers to the park who interviewed the alleged victim and took photos of his wound.

Baker relies on Reno to survive.

“He alerts me on my diabetes because I’m diabetic. He alerts because I’m a stroke victim, if I’m having one. He will pick up things. He pulls my wheelchair,” Baker says.

Janet McNeil is a veterinarian based in Ventura. She has treated Reno and has known Baker for years. McNeil says Reno is well-trained, certified and has never displayed any aggression.

“That was pretty unbelievable. I mean vicious is not anything that I would apply to this dog. I think things probably got misinterpreted. Vicious is far from anything that happened,” says McNeil.

Baker’s friends attended to the Santa Barbara City Council meeting on Tuesday in support of Baker’s plea for help to council members.

Sara Farmer is a member of a local church that feeds the homeless every week. She has known Baker and Reno for more than a year.

“I can vouch for Reno. He is the most intelligent and well-behaved dog I have ever encountered,” Baker says.

Santa Barbara police say there is a section of the Health and Safety Code that states the only service dog that cannot be taken away is a dog who serves as a guide for the blind.

Santa Barbara County Animal Services says Reno remains under quarantine and can be released on Oct. 25.

Baker will have to pay $180 to get Reno out.

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