If you’ve been watching the news, chances are you’ve seen the face of Julie Noyes, a woman arrested for stealing a service dog from an eleven-year-old girl in Arkansas. Eco News Network was the first news source to speak with Noyes to get her side of the story.
This is where the two stories match up. Noyes, of Alert Dogs for Life in Colorado, sent one-year-old Major to Arkansas to assist Alayna Barnes, an 11-year-old with juvenile diabetes who struggled with determining when her blood sugar levels would drop. On March 24, 2014 they received Major and the two immediately bonded.
But Major, still young, wasn’t doing exactly what the Barnes’ wanted, including alerting thirty minutes prior to the blood sugar dropping every single time and occasionally having accidents in the house. “He peed in the bed twice as well as the floor and I just kept telling them to put him outside, but they would never do it,” claims Noyes. “Hitting, he just doesn’t understand. Dogs are all about being punished in the moment, and at that point you’re already three seconds late or more.”
On July 5, 2014, they shipped Major back to Colorado for re-evaluation.
This is where the stories differ. When Noyes picks Major up from the airport, she takes him with her back to a training session with her FEMA team (Noyes has been working with FEMA for years and even assisted with the search at ground zero of the Twin Towers wreckage). It was one of the FEMA handlers that first noticed the scar on Major’s back leg.
Noyes brought Major into the vet as soon as she could. The vet measured the scar at 4¾ inches and notes other significant bruising. Though Noyes points out, “Not every bruise is from a hit, especially with these dogs. The bigger concern was the 4 ¾ inch scar.”
Right away Noyes was torn between taking Major away from the Barnes’, even though he’s saved Alayna’s life on multiple occasions, or letting him stay. It took her many days and much consultation with her lawyer and teammates before she decided that it was her obligation to protect the dog. The family did, after all, sign a contract that stated if they were to physically abuse or neglect the dog, she could take him back with no refund of the $20,000 they paid. The reason for this stipulation is that an abused dog can not be re-sold because they most likely won’t be able to perform like they should.
After returning to her home a few days later, Noyes was shocked to find that she was being arrested as a fugitive of justice after being told this was a civil matter. “I’m being punished for something I didn’t do. Not only did I not do this, I’m being punished for protecting this dog.”
The deputy who arrested her allegedly said, after hearing Noyes’ story, that she had never felt so bad for arresting someone.
She was later released on a signature bond for $200,000 and told that if she returned the dog, all the charges would be dropped. She reluctantly sent Major back to Arkansas. “I normally wouldn’t have a problem going to jail for this, but the Barnes’ relatives work in the jail as prison guards,” Noyes told us. Not only that, but Sherriff May, who has been working closely with the Barnes family on this case donated money to the family so they could get Major in the first place.
But it doesn’t end there for this determined dog trainer. She has compiled evidence from the family, as well as videos and pictures of the skittish dog, and is ready to get Major back to a safe home.
Photo Credit: Julie Noyes