RIVER VALE, N.J. (CBS 2) — A young girl lost custody of her German Shepherd after it bit another child in the face, Emily Smith reports.

To nine-year-old Molly Kimball, Ava, her 14-month-old dog is more than just a pet.

“She helps me through all of it and when sometimes I’m really sad she comes up to my face and kisses my tears,” she said.

Molly is battling brain cancer. Ava is being trained as her service dog, but right now she’s a valued companion.

“When Ava goes and wakes Molly up, she rolls out of bed with a smile on her face and comes down and takes her medication,” said her father, Paul Kimball.

While Ava is apparently devoted to Molly, there are questions whether the dog is a danger to other children.  The German Shepherd is now living in a shelter, pending a hearing this week to determine if she’s vicious.

In March, an incident involving the dog and a girl living next door, left the six-year-old child with a gash to her face that took 100 stitches to close.

Molly’s parents said it was an accidental collision between the leashed dog and the child.

“It wasn’t the dog snarling and me jumping and dragging it away. That didn’t happen. It was very quick,” Kimball said.

The injured girl’s parents disagree.

“It was a dog attacking a child point blank,” said Liz Gernhardt, the victim’s mother.

She said the dog ripped skin off her daughter’s nose.

“And to be there and have them tie her down so they could perform the surgery and to hear her scream, I never want to hear anyone scream like that. And this could have been prevented,” she said.

Gernhard said Ava nipped her son last year. She’s worried that the incidents will be repeated.

“I just want my children to feel safe and be safe while outside. That’s the bottom line,” she said.

The Gernhardts said they don’t want the dog to be put down, but they don’t feel it should be in a neighborhood filled with children.

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