While an Oak Ridge couple continues to fight to have their two African Boerboels returned, some of their neighbors hope the dogs remain out of the family-oriented community.
Steve Post, who lives a few houses down from Susan and Gary Kolb, has two young sons, ages 2 and 4. He believes having the dogs back in the area would be dangerous since he said children are always playing outside in the afternoon.
"They shouldn't be back in any neighborhood," Post said. "They've already bitten, they've already attacked."
Two other Summer Walk Circle residents agreed, but declined to provide their names for this article. One mother said she would be afraid for her children's safety.
"Does any dog that's being convicted under the state law as a vicious dog belong in any neighborhood? No, especially not in a neighborhood that has kids running around," Post said.
Despite the concerns raised by her neighbors, Susan Kolb has for her 19-year-old autistic son, Arthur.
"They are really, really mellow dogs," Susan Kolb said Monday. "They're charming, they're personable. They're not a fighting breed, they're a gentle breed."
Kolb said the dogs have helped Arthur since he was 14 years old, and he misses them because they have become a big part of his life.
"Arthur is a kid who doesn't have any wishes, but he prays to God every night that the dogs will come home," she said.
Susan Kolb said her son turned to the dogs as friends and companions, and has never considered them just pets.
"It’s a proven fact how much animals can help autistic people,” she said last week. "Arthur isn’t really capable of holding long conversations, but he can have a friendship with an animal. He isn’t able to have that with his peers."
When first researching dogs to purchase, Susan Kolb said she looked for ones who were the most mellow and best companions. She said that's what enticed her to purchase the African Boerboels.
"The dogs are really family dogs," she said. "And when they're here, all they do is follow the family from room to room, they just want to be with you."
Susan and Gary Kolb visit the dogs to feed and play with them at their current location at Woofs N Whiskers in Andover each day from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Susan Kolb says that although Arthur is unable to go during the week while he's in school, he goes every weekend.
The dogs were taken from the Kolbs last October when one was found not wearing the state-mandated muzzle while on a walk near their Oak Ridge home.
However, the couple claims they are "innocent of all charges and that this is a misunderstanding." The Kolbs released a statement Monday afternoon to local media organizations claiming the dogs, Jumba and Imani, were wearing muzzles when they left their home that morning last October at about 5:30 a.m. The couple also claims they have the pictures to prove it.
The Kolbs moved to Oak Ridge last year after the two 100-pound dogs allegedly knocked over a woman and her grandchild in 2008 and allegedly bit two people in 2009. All three alleged incidents occurred in Jersey City, where the Kolbs previously lived.
They had signed an agreement to sell the dogs to a buyer in Los Angeles but then refused to give up the animals and were held in contempt of court in 2010, according to the Daily Record.
The couple then moved to Jefferson, but were required by the state to have specific fencing, an enclosure and signage be erected at the home, and the dogs could only be out in public if muzzled and secured on 3-foot leashes.
Now the Kolbs have until Oct. 25 to decide if they would forfeit the dogs to the township or risk the animals being put down.
The couple released a statement Friday saying they would move again if it meant getting their dogs back and saving them from possibly being euthanized.
Jefferson Township also claims the couple owes about $10,000 for housing the dogs since last year. Jumba and Imani spent part of the last year at the Jefferson Pound before being moved to Andover.
Susan Kolb has disagreed with the amount owed because they provide food for the dogs, but Jefferson Mayor Russell Felter has said the charge is for the facility's daily boarding fee.
Felter did not respond to a message Monday seeking further comment.
The Kolbs have created savenjdogs.com, a website that explains their story with updates. They have raised more than $4,000 since May 23 toward their goal of $20,000 for the "Jumba and Imani Defense Fund."