UPDATE: Owner, trainer at Off Leash K9 Training in Johnson City charged after family pet dies |


The owner of a Johnson City dog ​​training center and a trainer who works there have been charged with aggravated animal cruelty after a family’s pet died during a residential training period two weeks, according to the authorities.

Off Leash K9 Training LLC, East TN, is located at 3 Charter Court, Suite B, but according to Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter Operations Manager Tammy Davis, trained dogs are with their designated trainer 24 hours a day. and 7 days a week. After the training period, the trainer meets with the owners to discuss the status of the training, but that never happened in this case.

Trainer Andy Hunigan and Off Leash K9 Training East Tennessee franchise owner Randi LaFerney each face one count of aggravated animal cruelty in the dog’s death.

The dog in question, an 8-month-old miniature bull terrier who weighed 31 pounds at the start of what was supposed to be a two-week stint with his trainer, Hunigan, turned up emaciated, dead and weighing 16 pounds after five weeks, says Davis. Authorities don’t know the exact cause of death, but the pup was sent to the University of Tennessee Veterinary School for an autopsy.

According to Davis, animal control has been notified of a possible case of cruelty at Off Leash K9 Training. An animal control officer went to interview the dog’s owners as well as LaFerney and Hunigan. The dog in question had been taken to Off Leash on March 18 for the two-week training period.

At the end of those two weeks, the trainer contacted the owners and told them he needed a little more time to housebreak the pup. Over the next few weeks, the owners tried to get their dog back, but complications always arose and it never happened.

“The dog was supposed to be picked up Easter weekend, but (Hunigan) was sick,” Davis said. “Their process is that the trainer meets with the dog owners and discusses the training, which is why the dog was not picked up at that time. On May 2, the couple received a text from (LaFerney) asking dog owners to call them. At that time, the owners were informed that the dog had passed away overnight.

Davis said she was unable to confirm rumors that the owner of the facility offered to have the dog cremated.

“The owners wanted to see the dog,” Davis said. “They met (LaFerney) and saw the dog from (his) car,” Davis said. “They were speechless when they saw their dog’s condition.”

Davis said there are several reasons why a dog may lose weight quickly, but this is “an extreme case.”

“There are many reasons why a dog may lose weight, but in this case it’s very alarming. It’s extreme weight loss in a very short time,” Davis said. “There are records veterinarians who show that the dog was in good health before going to the training center.”

Davis said Hunigan told dog owners he was in a wire crate when he found the dog dead on the morning of May 2. According to what Hunigan told authorities, “The dog had pushed over the front of the crate and had its head out of the crate and had to choke to death.

Davis and animal control officers don’t believe that’s what happened and were told “the dog was on an exercise, training and feeding program and ate three times a day. “.

“From what I understand, the dog was trained in a cage. I’m not aware the dog had ever had trouble getting out of a crate,” Davis said. “I would say that in any experience I’ve had with dogs that aren’t used to being crated or aren’t happy with being crated, they bark, scratch, dig in the crate and sometimes they damage their fingernails and bleed.

“None of that was seen,” with this dog, she said.

Davis said LaFerney and Hunigan were contacted but reported to authorities that they were out of town, so warrants were not served late Wednesday.

According to Davis, LaFerney has three other Off Leash training centers, in Texas, North Carolina and Florida. Animal control had no record of being called to investigate an incident at the facility.

Here’s LaFerney’s biography from the company’s website:

“Randi is well known in the corporate world having a successful career as an international and domestic mall developer for many years. After a long experience with business sharks, she thinks dogs are child’s play! Randi has had dogs all her life and feels a definite connection to them, having treated hundreds of dogs with behavioral issues. She believes that by observing a dog’s behavior, he will tell you exactly where he stands emotionally, psychologically and behaviorally. She wants to help families so that their dogs reach optimal functioning and full potential as loving, well-behaved members of the family pack. Randi is director of Southeast German Shepherd Rescue, where approximately 360 GSDs a year are assessed, rehabilitated and rehomed. She has worked with so many people and dogs (including NON-shepherds too!), She recognized that she could help more people by opening an OLK9 training center! »

A message left on the company’s answering machine was not returned.


Reported earlier:

The owner of a Johnson City dog ​​training center and a trainer who works there have been charged with aggravated animal cruelty after a family’s pet died during a residential training period two weeks, according to the authorities.

Off-Leash K9 Training, LLC, is TN. is located on Charter Court. Authorities said the dog died at the trainer’s residence.

Tammy Davis, director of operations at the Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter, said warrants had been signed by a judge for Randi Laferney, the owner of Off Leash K9 Training, as well as an unnamed trainer. Warrants had not been served on the two men because they had told authorities they were out of town.

Keep checking www.JohnsonCityPress.com for more details as they become available.

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