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State Supreme Court issues injunctions against “seizure-dog” business

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CANTON — A state Supreme Court ruling prohibits a South Colton man from marketing “seizure dogs” he claimed were trained to alert their owners to oncoming seizures.

The state attorney general’s office released a statement heralding the decision against Jon C. Sabin and Seizure Alert Dogs for Life Inc., calling Mr. Sabin’s business a “sham.”

An angry Mr. Sabin responded that the Tuesday ruling by St. Lawrence County state Supreme Court Justice David R. Demarest is “garbage,” and vowed to take his fight to the highest court in the land.

“You know where this is going? The United States Supreme Court,” Mr. Sabin said Wednesday evening.

Judge Demarest on Tuesday issued permanent injunctions prohibiting Mr. Sabin and his company from advertising or selling dogs as trained to respond to or assist people suffering from epilepsy or other medical conditions.

Mr. Sabin began selling “seizure dogs” in 2009.

“Even without specifying his training techniques, Sabin has not disclosed the number of hours each dog receives, nor the general types of training he performs,” the judge wrote.

Mr. Sabin, who has been acting as his own attorney, said that Assistant Attorney General Deanna R. Nelson, who prosecuted the case, “blocked” his communication with the court, lied about customers’ experiences with the dogs and prevented him from presenting evidence and witnesses that would demonstrate the dogs’ efficacy.

“I’m a sham? Do you want to know what she is? She’s a lawyer,” Mr. Sabin shouted during a telephone interview. He later emailed to say he was going to sue Ms. Nelson’s office for libel “due to extrajudicial statement” for releasing a statement to the press.

“While it is Sabin’s representation that the attorney general has lied to the court in this special proceeding, the petition is supported by numerous affidavits of individuals who state that the dogs are not properly trained and lack general obedience skills and temperament to function as a service dog,” Judge Demarest wrote.

“There was absolutely no evidence whatsoever that this man took any steps to select or train these dogs as he represented,” Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a release.

“They didn’t want to see it,” Mr. Sabin said, claiming there was evidence about the dogs’ performance.

Tuesday’s ruling was just the latest salvo in a battle that already has reached federal court.

Mr. Sabin and his company filed suit in September in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, against Mr. Schneiderman, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Ms. Nelson, claiming his civil rights were violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act when the attorney general obtained an order barring him from running his business. He sought $75 million from the state attorney general.

In a report filed last month, Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles recommended to Judge Gary L. Sharpe, who is presiding over Mr. Sabin’s federal case, that any claims for damages against the state officials in their official capacity be dismissed. He wrote that federal law, under the 11th Amendment, prohibits suits in federal court brought by parties seeking monetary damages that must be paid through state funds.

Judge Peebles also recommended the dismissal of claims against the state officials in their individual capacity.

Judge Peebles did, however, recommend keeping alive Mr. Sabin’s request for injunctive relief which, if successful, would prevent the attorney general from enforcing state service animal laws against him and allow him to continue training dogs.

The status of that case in light of Tuesday’s state Supreme Court ruling was not immediately clear.

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