Reward Offered in Case of Murdered Service Dog

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A Michigan family is grieving the death of their service dog, and authorities say a $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) who shot it in their driveway.

Brooke Wilbanks told reporters she let her service dog, Sensi, outside for a bathroom break and after a half hour had passed, the family went looking for her and found her dead in the driveway. Someone had shot her in the head.

“We have a 2 1/2 year old, and Sensi is his emotional support animal,” said Brooke’s fiancee Jonathan Doyle. “I guess the saddest part of it is she’s firearm trained, so she’s trained not to react to a gunshot, she sits. She was looking into the eyes of whoever shot her. I had to close her eyes.”

As if that were not sad enough, consider that Sensi would have been 3 years old today – and share this with anyone you know in the area. Anyone with knowledge of the incident is asked to contact the Midland County Sheriff’s department at 989-839-4600.

37 thoughts on “Reward Offered in Case of Murdered Service Dog”

  1. It is so hard to look at the picture of Sensi and not feel the enormous pain and loss this family must be suffering. My heart is breaking for them.

    I truly hope that they removed the bullet and will investigate it’s origin just as they would in a human homicide. That is the only way to track down the “scumbag” that did this. We MUST continue to treat these cases as egregious crimes by not letting them fall of the radar and be forgotten. They MUST be solved so that those who commit them are prosecuted and so that a message is sent out to the community at large, “these crimes against beloved pets WILL NOT BE TOLERATED in our society!”

    If statistics prove once again to be accurate, this person is probably not far. They probably live very close to this family’s residence. This is logical considering Brooke Wilbanks only left Sensi unattended for 30 minutes. They must keep pressuring local law enforcement for action and a response. After all, someone discharged a firearm in a residential area. That is against the law! Surely that is reason enough to keep this on top of the list for the local law enforcement.

    This makes me so angry!!!!!

    • You watch too much CSI.

      It is NOT possible to remove a bullet from a body or any other surface and “trace it to its origin”. You can *match* a bullet to a gun if you HAVE the gun so you can compare other bullets fired from the same gun with the bullet found at the scene.

      Even then, getting a match is often highly unlikely based on how deformed the bullet is (surprisingly, they hardly never look like on CSI), how much is left of the bullet, etc. Most bullet matches are in the very low percentages if they can be matched at all.

  2. Umm… What kind on service dog was Sensi? I am sorry this family lost there dog in such a manor but I am not so sure of the “service dog” title.
    He/she was very young to have gone through a training service and then turned over to a family for some sort of service. i.e. seizure dog, seeing eye, hearing ear, etc.

    • Many dogs start service training at just weeks of age. A service dog can aid in anything from leading the blind, seizure alert, anxiety or companion.

    • Does it really matter what type of service dog? Maybe their child was autistic and this dog helped with emotional support as the dad says in the video. You can also see the service dog badge on the collar. The fact is, some low-life waste of air shot this dog for no reason and hopefully he’ll get what’s coming to him!

      • It matters if the family is misrepresenting the dog as a Service Dog. Fact is, Emotional Support Animals – which is what the father said the dog was – are NOT considered to be Service Dogs. Service Dogs are trained specific tasks for a disabled handler, and providing “comfort” or “emotional support” are NOT considered to be Service Dog tasks.

        • Thanks for making this point. It seems this brutal act has been overshadowed by scrutiny of details that seem so inconsequential given the loss this family has suffered in such an egregious and cowardly way.

        • Linda – do not put words into my mouth. At no point did I say that this was not a horrible thing, and that the shooter should not be found.

          However, it is illegal to misrepresent your dog as a Service Animal and as a Service Dog advocate, I think it’s important that people understand that only dogs trained to do specific tasks for a legally (not just medically) disabled person are considered to be Service Dogs.

          A lot of the time when a case is in the news that is actually about an Emotional Support Animal, a Service Dog in Training, or a Therapy Dog, the press immediately jumps to calling them a Service Dog and people rally to the cause because a Service Dog would have never just run loose. Or a Service Dog would have never bitten anyone.

          But people also need to be aware that it is illegal to pass your pet off as a Service Dog. Sensi was, if anything, an Emotional Support Animal. They are pets and have no public access rights – only special access for housing and transportation. She should have never been wearing a Service Dog tag to begin with, nor should she be passed off as a Service Dog in the news.

          This isn’t about “tearing apart” this case, it’s about protecting people with REAL Service Dogs. Because yes, any dog can be a Service Dog, including a Pit Bull, but they’ve already got a hard enough time without people slapping a $15 Internet-bought Service Dog tag on an Emotional Support Dog that happens to be the dog news topic of the day.

        • I disagree with you. There have been several articles on returning service men/women that do not have “physical disabilities” but have emotional difficulties and there are dogs that have been trained in whatever capacity for this, so there are service dogs for this purpose. In fact, Life with Dogs posted a video about a vet that in fact had a service dog for this purpose.
          As the administrator said, it is irrevelant to the fact that someone shot this dog for no reason.

      • how do you know it was for no reason? If a pitbull came charging at you and barking while you were walking with your child or your pet dog, what would YOU do.
        Noone knows that this dog was doing nothing because NO ONE was watching it and it was loose in an unfenced yard (and looking at the video) the house wasn’t even visible from the road.
        The person to blame (and who all this idiots should be calling to have shot or hung or killed or whatever) are the people that owned it and were so irresponsible with it. Would they leave their child to play out unattended outside too?

        • Why do you automatically assume this dog was capable of charging at someone? Because it was a Pit Bull? My guess is, you are one of those people that has been brainwashed by the media about Pit bull terriers.

          If this was even a possibility then this upstanding citizen you describe, who would have been merely defending their self, would have no problem coming forward and telling authorities why they shot the dog.

          That hasn’t happened has it? Probably because the real reason the dog was shot was the act of a coward who unfortunately has a deep seated hate for Pit bulls and decided to harm this dog. You know the kind….they believe everything they see on TV because they don’t have the time to educate themselves about the facts.

          • you mean the same way you assume it’s a friendly pit bull?

            I find it hard to believe you have never seen or heard of a pitbull attacking people or other dogs or children unprevoked. While many pitbulls are wonderful animals, there are as many bad pitbulls as there are bad people.

            I have seen both kinds… and the person who is 100% responsible for this dog dying is the one that let it in an unfenced yard alone and unsupervised. If the dog was in the house or they were watching it this would not have happened. PERIOD.
            You assume that the person that shot this dog was cowardly when the ONLY facts presented are that the dog was unattended in an unfenced yard. The video clearly shows that the house is NOT visible from the road and the dog was shot.
            It is NOT a ridiculous assumption to believe that the dog owner is an irresponsible person when they left their dog unattended like that, and also not ridiculous to think that that kind of irresponsible person would also not train their dog properly… or be the type of person who gets a pitbull BECAUSE of their reputation for viciousness.
            I feel for the dog, but I stand by my statement and place the blame wholly on the dog’s owners.

          • Lars, Lars, Lars,

            Well, that is quite a lengthy dissertation but I must say, I hope you are not in law enforcement solving crimes. Seems you would prefer to blame the victim, “the person who is 100% responsible for this dog dying is the one that let it in an unfenced yard alone and unsupervised,” leaving the actual perpetrator completely exempt of any responsibility in this brutal act.

            Unlike you, I assume nothing. However, I do base my opinion on the peer-reviewed research published on dog bites and aggressive behavior. You state “While many pitbulls are wonderful animals, there are as many bad pitbulls as there are bad people.” That’s a lot of “bad” Pit Bulls, when in fact, if you read the literature you would find very few, when measured to the entire population of Pit Bulls, are no more aggressive toward humans than any other breed of dog. Just to broaden your understanding, research published by Stephanie Ott in 2009 in which researchers studied Bull Terrier bloodlines using temperament testing, 97.37% of the dogs “reacted appropriately in all test situations. No indication for inadequate or disturbed aggressive behavior in this Bullterrier bloodline was found (Ott, 2009).” Sorry I am in a habit of siting references for fact by profession. This is only one of many published research articles on the subject. When I mention “published” I am not referring to those found in entertainment publications whose sales are dependent on hype and emotion. I personally like to refer to the experts on such matters.

            I do agree that when a dog, and that means any breed of dog, attacks or harms anyone, it is the responsibility of the owner. But, there are many reasons that dogs bite so a direct correlation cannot be made to a breed’s tendency toward aggressive behavior. I do believe it is the responsibility of every owner of every dog no matter the breed, to socialize his or her dog. But, I do not blame the breed I blame the owner. However, the killing of Sensi has nothing to do with this discussion as I do not make my whole judgment of this incident based on a 3 second image on a video of a concealed driveway as you have done. By all account this was an execution of hate for a breed of dog. I would be willing to bet, had this been a lab or a retriever, the dog would still be alive and not due to any aggressive behavior but to the ignorance of a vengeful person. I admit, as yet there is no evidence to support this view, but given the ridiculous actions by many and municipalities to enact BSL legislation, despite the numerous research on this matter, I feel I am probably on pretty solid footing.

            By the way, my use of the descriptive term, “cowardly” is due to the obvious single and most damming detail that you so quickly dismiss or ignore, and that is, no one has come forward and that is a FACT, not a conjecture.

        • ” If a pitbull came charging at you and barking while you were walking with your child or your pet dog, what would YOU do.”
          Normally if you are walking with your child or pet dog you aren’t carrying a gun. Also are you saying only shoot the dog coming after you if it’s a pitbull ? What do you do if the dog coming after you is a lab ?
          If this dog was another breed would you still be spewing these idiotic statements ? Doubt it. You are one of those stuck on stupid people who think no other dog can attack and be dangerous other than pitbulls. It’s rather sad that people think this way. Your ignorance scares me more than any breed of dog.

    • Sensi was a service dog and had her badge on when she was shot. If you look at the photos in this post you can see her badge on her collar. Her service was to provide emotional supports to a 2 1/2 year old boy. I think this family has had enough to indure without having to justify Sensi’s role in their childs life.
      However, I am just wondering, Anonymous, if she where just a family pet and not a service dog would your thoughts (whatever they maybe) on this matter be different ?
      To be very honest, in the past when I have came across reports like this but the dog was a pet I have felt saddness. This report not only brings sorrow but anger ….alot of anger.

      • Renda – just because Sensi was wearing a Service Dog “badge” does not mean she was a Service Dog. The badge she was wearing can be ordered from for abut $15. No proof required, although you’re required to state that your dog actually is a Service Dog.

        Real Service Dogs are not required to wear badges or other form of ID. They are, however, required to do actual, demonstrable tasks (things that can be done on command) for people who are legally disabled.

        The Americans with Disabilities Act does NOT consider “providing emotional support” or “comfort” to be a Service Dog task. If you watch the video, the father actually states that Sensi is an Emotional Support Animal. ESAs are NOT Service Dogs according to the ADA and do not have the same access rights to stores, restaurants, etc. that real Service Dogs have. They are only allowed access to housing and transportation (like airplane travel) and then only with a letter from the doctor and prior arrangement for “reasonable accommodation”.

        I think the reason that this is important – not to this case but important to mention because this case is in the media – is because there are real Service Dogs out there that are pit bulls and they are already having a difficult enough time without people who pass ESAs off as Service Dogs, even to the point where they order those tags.

        Is it still an awful crime? Of course it is – nobody is arguing that. But the crime is being “elevated” in some ways because people say this is a Service Dog, when she wasn’t.

        • Chris, I wrote “Her service was to provide emotional supports to a 2 1/2 year old boy.” I understand your conviction on the whole “REAL” service dog. I am also painfully aware of the Pit Bull plight. Truth be told….”real” service dog or not, “real” badge or not, black, white, blue, red, brindle or spotted… most people respond to the dog with fear “OMG A PIT BULL !!!!!” and are blinded to the rest of what the dog is. Sensi’s death kinda proves that point.
          I still have the anger even if her service wasn’t as a “real” service dog somehow I don’t think it mattered to the two year old. BTW its my PO that any dog who provides a service to a human that improves that persons quality of life should be recognized as a ” REAL” service animal. A dog that provides comfort to the returning war weary soldier (ESA) may have saved his and/ or his families life. My father’s guide dog is a “real” service animal. But, he l is not any better than a ESA. Service Animals should be without prejudices and segregation. A disability should not be classified, or ranked against another disability, after all this isn’t 1969 . Also, if the person who shot her did so in fear then where is the report made to the police? Why didn’t they knock on the door to tell them that their dog went nuts ? That didn’t happen in Sensi’s case so I agree the shooter was a cold blooded coward

    • They can become service dogs by the age of 1 1/2. I looked it up because I wanted my dog to be a trained for helping me with low blood sugar. They won’t train her because she is too old she was 1 at the time. They start off training them pretty much as soon as they can leave their mothers. I am sure if the dog is being trained for someone who has more complicated issues it would take longer. The story says he was an “emotional support animal” it doesn’t take as long to train as it does to train a dog to help a completely handicap person. They don’t need to learn how to do much.
      However, the point of the story is that some A HOLE shot a dog, I don’t care if it was a service dog or a family pet, it’s wrong and who ever did it should be shot the same way.

  3. My heart goes out to the family of this beautiful animal. I do hope and pray that the person who did this gets punished to the fullest extent of the Michigan law. It is crimes such as this that leads to other more violent crimes if not stopped. People who prey on animals such as this will ultimately abuse further.
    I am so sorry for your child and your family.

  4. How sad is this. What a beautiful dog. My thoughts go out to the family. I can only imagine the greif they are feeling.
    I hope they find the heartless person who do this awful crime. I am so sick of hearing about animal abuse…Penalties have to get tougher for these creeps.

  5. Come on everybody, quit nit picking everything (not a service dog, watch too must CSI) and just realize the sadness and injustice dealt to this family. Anybody who kills a dog for no good reason is not what we need in our society.


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