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Story: Community creates gofundme page after death of beloved service dog

Family believes 8-year-old Siberian Husky was poisoned

Published in the July 6 – 19, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Marty Cheek

Photo by Marty Cheek Elena Miles holds a framed photo of her service dog Diamond who died June 9. She and her family are trying to raise money for a new service dog. They believe the family dog was poisoned and filed a report with police.

Photo by Marty Cheek
Elena Miles holds a framed photo of her service dog Diamond who died June 9. She and her family are trying to raise money for a new service dog. They believe the family dog was poisoned and filed a report with police.

Diamond wasn’t just a dog. She was Elena Miles’ guardian angel. The Siberian husky service dog saved Miles’ life at least five times. So it devastated the Miles family when they found Diamond lifeless in the backyard of their Morgan Hill home June 9.

Miles got the service animal four and a half years ago because she suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Diamond was trained to nudge her awake if she stopped breathing while sleeping and help out in other ways.

“She services me by letting me know when my oxygen levels are low when I sleep at night and I’m not breathing, she helps me by waking me up. If she can’t wake me up she wakes my husband up,” Miles said. “If my husband is not home, she hits the emergency pound button for 911.”

Diamond would help Miles if she dropped something and pick it up for her because bending over is hard for Miles. She would often rely on the dog to walk with her and lean on her if she needed to rest from activity. The dog would often carry portable oxygen tanks on her specially-made service dog harness.

“If I fall, her harness is built so she can pull me back up,” she said. “She did a lot. She was a great dog and she was specially trained.”

The circumstances of Diamond’s death are suspicious. The Miles family resides in Gilroy but they spend several days a week at the Windmill Estates mobile home park in Morgan Hill where Miles serves as a manager. On June 9, Miles’ young son Aaron went in the backyard and saw Diamond laying on the ground motionless. He went back inside and told his dad, Billy, who went outside and realized the family’s dog was dead. A little bit of blood was on the ground by Diamond’s mouth. The Miles called the veterinarian who said, based on the description they gave him, that Diamond had either had a heart attack or had been poisoned. Diamond was checked out a few weeks before and was “perfectly fine,” Miles said. The family kept all toxic material out of reach of animals and children, so they suspect someone might have thrown poisoned-laced meat over the fence. The vet told them the only way to know for sure whether or not this was the case was to conduct an autopsy, something Miles did not want done out of respect for her service dog.

The family has strong reasons for suspicion that Diamond was poisoned and made a report with the police. They ask that if anyone might know information relating to the circumstances behind the dog’s death, they should report it to Morgan Hill police.

Miles’ 6-year-old son, Makaio, is heart-broken by the loss of Diamond because the dog had been a big part of his life since he was a baby.
“Diamond was his second mom and he misses her,” Miles said. “She would sleep with him. Sometimes she would give him dog food as if to feed him as if he was one of her puppies. When he was a baby and my husband and I would bathe him at night, we would have to fight her because she would try to lick him dry.”

Because of her health, Miles needs to have a second service dog to accompany her. A gofundme.com donation account was set up to help raise some of the estimated $19,000 needed to train another mobility dog, a four-month-old labradoodle breed. Elena named him Sully after a character in the TV show “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” The breed was chosen because the fur is hypoallergenic.

Diamond was born on Nov. 30, 2008 so was still very young and energetic, Miles said.

“She saved my life at least five time as far as I can remember,” she said.

DETAILS

To donate: www.gofundme.com/servicedogforelena
For tax donation basis, send a check with Elena Miles-Sully on the memo line to:
Service Dogs For Independence
15480 N Lago Del Oro Pkwy.
Tucson, Ariz. 85739