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Owner of former Connecticut dog training center pleads guilty to animal cruelty – Hartford Courant

The owner of a former dog boarding and training facility in Connecticut was given a six-month suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to animal cruelty, court records show.

Additionally, Thomas Hunt Jr., of Naugatuck, received a year of probation, records show.

Hunt pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of animal cruelty in New Haven Superior Court, court records show. He was originally charged with two counts of animal cruelty.

His attorney, Sally Pruitt, did not return a call for comment.

An arrest warrant affidavit in the case states that the cruelty relates to the alleged extreme weight loss of two dogs that was discovered by Woodbridge Regional Animal Control after the same two dogs in Hunt’s care “mauled and killed” a mini-schnauzer, according to an arrest warrant. sworn declaration.

Hunt, 56, was charged with two counts of animal cruelty at his former Eagle K-9 Academy facility, 809 Carrington Road, Bethany, records show.

In addition to the criminal charges, state Animal Control inspections in the past year have cited alleged health and safety violations at Eagle K-9 Academy.

The condition of the Cane Corso dogs, one called “emaciated” in the order affidavit, came to the attention of Woodbridge Regional Animal Control after Hunt reported by phone April 8 that the dogs had “maimed and killed ” to the mini schnauzer.

Hunt told animal control the attack occurred after an employee “failed to secure a latch,” according to an order written by animal control officer Karen Lombardi.

The Cane Corso dogs that attacked, one male and one female, were taken to the Woodbridge animal control facility for quarantine and were found to be “extremely underweight,” according to the warrant affidavit.

Lombardi wrote in the warrant affidavit: “It is through my training and experience that I know it is a training tactic to deprive the animal of food in an attempt to use food as a reward.”

The order documents weight concerns in detail.

The 4-year-old male weighed 87.3 pounds, while veterinary paperwork showed he weighed 130 pounds about two months earlier, according to the court order.

The other, a 3-year-old girl, weighed 88.7 pounds and records from two months earlier showed she weighed 98 pounds, according to the court order.

The order states that on April 12, Lombardi, along with state animal control officer Charles DellaRocco, interviewed the dogs’ owner, a North Haven man, who told them he had left the dogs in a shelter. because I was going through a divorce and needed a place. for them as they go through the transition.

The owner told animal control officers that he left the dogs in December 2021 in “good health” but they now looked “malnourished and skin and bone thin,” the order says.

On April 12, the dogs were taken to the Milford Animal Clinic and examined by a veterinarian who confirmed the dogs were underweight, with Moose’s “spine and ribs” prominent on visual examination, according to the affidavit. of the order.

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Hunt told investigators he was feeding the dogs “six cups of food a day,” the order says.

Shortly after the investigation was conducted, the facility on Carrington Road was renamed the Perfection with Affection K-9 Academy. The status of the new business could not be determined after Hunt’s conviction.

The Perfection with Affection “team” is listed as Thomas Hunt Sr., “a certified master trainer and graduated from the US K9 Academy some 30 years ago,” as well as Thomas Hunt Jr., described as “a certified teacher. and began training dogs at a young age. He is a graduate of the US K9 Academy. Thomas Jr. also served four years in the United States Marine Corps.”

A message from Thomas Hunt Jr. on the website reads: “When you say a dog is man’s best friend, that is our ultimate goal. Seeing the transformation from a wild pup to a happy, well-mannered dog is incredible and it’s what keeps us here.”

In the past year, Eagle K-9 Academy received at least one warning from the State Department’s Animal Control Unit after an inspection, and inspections turned up suspected violations, according to records obtained through the Animal Freedom Act. Information.

Alleged violations have included: feces and urine in hallways and kennels, a puddle of urine in the hallway, no mechanical ventilation, inadequate drainage, old fences with no roof, extremely dirty fan and roof, lack of repairs that could cause injury, control of mice. feces near the kitchen sink. One report indicated that five of nine dogs were not up to date on rabies shots and eight of nine were not licensed.

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