13 Investigates


Puppy injured during Off Leash K9 training

Lucky in training
Lucky in training
Lucky in training
Posted at 4:14 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 22:52:57-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Lucky has been through a lot in her short life.

"I got her from a shelter. She was already in bad shape when I got her," said Taemee Feuer.

A stomach full of rocks led to emergency surgery.

"I would lay next to her while she was not moving. You could hear the rocks churning."

When she recovered from surgery, "She badly needed some training."

Feuer paid nearly $3,400 for a two-week board and train program with Off Leash K9 Training.

"And what I got was a frightened, scared, hurt puppy."

During Lucky's training, Feuer would get videos and pictures keeping her posted on the pup's progress.

In one text exchange with the company's owner, she comments that Lucky looks anxious.

He agrees she's "Not a very happy-looking pup" and says he and his partner are addressing it.

Then, "The day before I'm supposed to pick her up, I get a text message from the trainer," said Feuer.

The text notes "irritation" on Lucky's neck, claiming, "The vet said it's a rash."

"And I said no, that's not a rash. That's something from the collar that you guys are using."

The type of e-collar used on Lucky had two prongs consistent with the injuries to the dog's neck — injuries the veterinarian diagnosed as electrical burns.

"It looks like neglect to me. It looks like pressure sores, like the collar was left on too long," said trainer Antonio Diaz of Leader of the Pack.

We first me him in 2019 when he donated his time to repair damaged trust after another family's dog went for immersive training with Sit Means Sit and came back with unexplained wounds and lesions on his neck from an e-collar.

"In this industry there aren't many regulations," said Diaz.

In Nevada and just about everywhere else, no one is regulating or overseeing dog trainers to ensure they know how to train and treat the animals in their care. There's no education or licensing required.

"In addition to that, you can never really know what somebody is capable of or incapable of," said Diaz.

13 Investigates first exposed Off Leash K9 Training three years ago after video surfaced of veteran dog trainer Willie Harrell appearing to threaten a leashed dog with a baseball bat while cursing and issuing commands.

Harrell said he never hit or abused the dog.

When North Las Vegas police opened an investigation, other dog owners reported their pets were mistreated while at Off Leash — malnourished, matted, and, like Lucky, with neck injuries.

According to a vet report we included in our 2019 story involving a dog named Patrick, there were concerns over a shock collar used by the trainer. The vet observed scabs all over his neck — a total of four of them appearing to be from burn lesions.

"From what they had told me, it was from the shock collar being used to the point where it actually burned his skin," said dog owner Eric Watts in 2019.

Harrell was stripped of his franchise license and Off Leash K9 Training is now under new ownership.

Off Leash owner Tom McGovern texted Feuer after Lucky was injured, apologizing and writing, "Please let me know if there is anything else I can do. I feel horrible. If you find another trainer you are comfortable with, I'd like to cover up to a grand of the expenses. I'm so sorry about this."

When Feuer finally did find another trainer and tried to take him up on that offer, "He had blocked me! He had blocked me, and so did the manager, so I couldn't even get in touch with him anymore."

McGovern declined to go on camera for this story. He sent a statement saying, "Once I was aware of the situation, I did my best to make things right. I fully refunded client, and mentored and reprimanded my trainer so that the situation does not happen again. We (including that specific trainer) have received numerous positive reviews and compliments of our services since that incident."

He pointed to the many testimonials on his website and YouTube channel, saying they represent the vast majority of his customers.

As for Lucky, she's getting re-trained and learning to trust.

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