SHEBOYGAN — The relationship between a child and their pet can be truly amazing to see, especially if the animal is highly trained to make the kid's life better.
A service dog is more than pet, but a family in Sheboygan has a warning for anyone looking for an animal online.
It's hard to keep up with eight-year-old Isabella. In the Pietroske family, you've got to be fast and like to have fun. Isabella leads the way.
While she acts like any other kid, Isabella is autistic and certain situations can send her into a meltdown.
"Before she got her diagnosis, a lot of the teachers said the same thing -- 'I don't really see it.' Well, as you work with Isabella over the time, then it explodes one day and you're like, 'oh, wow,'" explained Troy Pietroske, Isabella's dad.
Troy and his wife, Crystal, heard a service dog might be perfect for their daughter. They signed a contract with Georgia-based Guardian of the Night K9 for a Golden Doodle named Alpha.
"When she has a meltdown, the dog with either sit or lay on her until she calms down," said Crystal Pietroske, Isabella's mom.
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The Pietroskes trusted Guardian of the Night K9 and the owners Corey and Travis Fox. After all, Travis is a K-9 officer for Clayton County, Georgia.
Isabella was excited.
"I was going to play fetch with him. I was going to pet him. I was going to tell him to sit. I was going to give him a treat," Isabella said.
Alpha and Isabella were supposed to be united this spring, but, then Crystal got worried.
"I started talking to some people who had gotten dogs from her and they said 'we got our dog and it was not even trained. It wasn't potty trained. It wasn't no where near a service dog,'" Crystal said.
Those types of complaints lead authorities in Georgia to raid the Fox's property and they found a mess.
The case field report says they saw "12 dogs inside the home" with "unsanitary conditions."
It goes on to say they had to take a "younger German Shepard to the vet" because it was "full of worms, hooks and whips, very underweight."
In addition, the report says they found "seven total dogs outside" and that they were living in "very bad conditions, dirty water" with "feces and urine covering the kennel floor."
The report also noted, "the smell was horrific."
It was information Troy and Crystal hadn't seen until FOX6's Katrina Cravy showed it to them.
"There's no excuse for that," Crystal said.
They are out more than $5,000 and telling their daughter Alpha wasn't coming was hard.
"Not only because it's my daughter — I can't believe they did this to other people and then, also, you think you're dealing with an officer of the law and he wouldn't even respond to us." Troy said.
Corey and Travis Fox are facing multiple code violations.
Wisconsin's Division of Animal Health says, unfortunately, this case should be a lesson for anyone looking for a serving dog or any animal online.
"It's really important to go out and meet with the breeder that's breeding the puppy or meet with the person that's fostering the puppy or with the adoption center. Meet with them, see the dog, make sure you ask the appropriate questions. Don't take their word for what you see on the website," advised Raechelle Belli, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Division of Animal Health.
The Pietroskes are doing just that with a company that proves it's doing the proper training.
"The place that we are looking at going through now doesn't require any monthly payments. You can pay the full chunk when you receive the dog," Crystal said.
Corey and Travis Fox's case is still going through the courts in Henry County, Georgia.
The Pietroskes still have not received money back from Corey and Travis Fox after not getting Alpha.
A GoFundMe page has been setup to help recoup some of that money and get Isabella a new dog. If you would like to donate, click HERE.