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Judge hears motions in ongoing ‘seizure dog’ case

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CANTON — The battle between a St. Lawrence County seizure-dog trainer and the state Attorney General’s Office continued with oral arguments Friday morning before state Supreme Court Justice David R. Demarest.

Jon C. Sabin, South Colton, faced off against Assistant Attorney General Deanna R. Nelson as they presented rival motions pertaining to the future of Mr. Sabin’s ability to market trained service dogs.

Mr. Sabin was temporarily barred from doing business in New York in January 2012 by Judge Demarest while allegations filed by the Attorney General’s Office that he misled customers with claims about the animals’ abilities are settled.

Mr. Sabin has filed a motion to dismiss the state’s case. The state opposed his motion and filed a cross motion seeking summary disposition. It was those motions which were before the judge on Friday.

Mr. Sabin, representing himself, spoke first, closing his initial remarks by saying that he wants to see information on consumers who complained, so that he can raise a defense against their claims.

“And then let’s start banging heads, Ms. Nelson,” he said.

The state accuses Mr. Sabin of advertising dogs capable of picking up on advance clues before an epileptic seizure occurs, with reports of customers who say he lied about the dogs’ training and abilities.

The state’s motion alleges that Mr. Sabin “has entirely failed to address the merits of this action, namely the fact that he deceptively promoted dogs as ‘highly trained service dogs,’ when in fact he undertook no steps to select appropriate dogs for service work, nor did he undertake any relevant training of these animals prior to selling them.”

And, Ms. Nelson, told the court, Mr. Sabin has yet to produce any evidence to the contrary.

Mr. Sabin defended his practices and argued, as he has previously, that the evidence state officials seek with respect to his training techniques would in effect force him to reveal protected trade secrets.

According to his motion, the dogs are trained “to swipe a (vagus nerve stimulation) magnet, make emergency assistance phone calls and to assist with other issues regarding a disability,” and that “no promotional efforts exaggerated any training operation.”

“Some of these parents are not the brightest on the planet,” Mr. Sabin told the judge in reference to customers who may have had difficulty with the animals, saying that some may not understand the dogs are “a piece of medical equipment, not a pet.”

Mr. Sabin also argued that the state is aware that he has many satisfied clients but never contacted any of those witnesses. He told the court that other satisfied clients are afraid to talk about their experiences for fear media scrutiny will make them “look like screwballs because they bought a service dog for an epileptic child.”

“I have affidavits from many customers, which the state knows,” he said.

A ruling from the judge is expected within 60 days.

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