NJ military family still fighting to get back dog it raised for 6 years
Nearly two months since their struggle went public, a Middlesex County military family has not given up on trying to convince a private security firm to retire a work dog with the family members -- and in so doing reunite her with her longtime human caretakers.
Back in January, Seamus Fennessy delivered the Black Labrador named Mattie to its owner, his employer, MSA Security.
Fennessy had lived and worked with the trained explosive detection canine for more than six years, but was called back to active duty with the Army National Guard.
In January, he said he had decided to work for the private security firm because of its military-friendly reputation and policy to keep each dog with one handler. Fennessy also said there was the "promise" that a handler could keep his or her canine, once the animal is retired.
Over the past two months, Fennessy's wife, Deirdre has continued social media campaigns, via Facebook and an online petition, to try and have Mattie retired from work. As of Monday, the petition had more than 130,000 signatures. Among the family's supporters is New Jersey State Sen. Declan O'Scanlon, who suggested letting the dog live with the family but come to work each day.
In a Facebook update on March 2, she shared a letter from MSA Security outlining the private security company's latest response, as delivered in a meeting between her husband, the company CEO Glenn Kucera and Chairman Mike O’Neil.
In the letter, the company said the family would have first priority for the adoption of the dog, whenever she is retired, in exchange for refraining from disparaging the company and its practices.
"Essentially, they want us to comply with all of their demands, which includes, shutting down this page as well as our other social media accounts," she wrote in the post. "Never speaking of their poor treatment of us or Mattie. Stifling our friends and family from ever again mentioning Mattie being taken from our home as any of this will be considered 'indirect actions' taken by my husband against MSA Security."
She also alleged she had "reason to believe Mattie will be reassigned at any moment" to keep Mattie away from the family, but didn't say what those reasons are.
Mattie recently turned 7 years old which for a Labrador Retriever is the earliest threshold for being considered a senior dog, according to guidelines from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
In her March update on Facebook, Deirdre Fennessy said "In our case it is apparent that Mr. Kucera is determined to make an example of us without any regard for the lives he’s damaging in the process. Not just myself, my husband, and our entire family but the most innocent one here, our poor Mattie."
A spokeswoman for MSA Security on Monday declined to discuss the case in detail.
"MSA’s Security’s explosive detection canine services are a matter of public and private safety," Miranda Tomic said. "Our policies and procedures regarding our canines and handlers are subject to confidentially and may not be discussed by MSA."
It's the same statement given by the company in January, when the Fennessy family surrendered the dog back to MSA Security.
haven't they been getting some kind of support from legislators?
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