LOUISIANA (KLFY) Dog owners are uniting for a civil lawsuit against a Rapides Parish canine academy, the owner, and her daughter. This comes after videos of the trainers allegedly abusing dogs at their facility sparked outrage.
The videos led to an investigation by the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, who arrested the academy’s owner, 52-year-old Tina Frey, and her daughter, 21-year-old Victoria Brimer. Both were charged with two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Now dog owners across the south who brought their dogs to Cypress Arrow K-9 Academy are taking part in a civil suit.
“We’re hopeful that they will be held responsible financially and that will send a message that this is not okay,” Lauren Ventrella, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said.
Ventrella filed the civil lawsuit against the training academy, the owner, and her daughter, who are dog trainers, on behalf of seven dog owners, who claim they abused their pets at the academy.
Firstly, the suit states the dogs were starved and all of the dogs returned to their owners significantly underweight and needing veterinary care because of their injuries.
It also says the dogs were mistreated and abused physically and mentally at the hands of the trainers and have irreparable damage. In addition, the lawsuit claims the dog owners have suffered extreme mental distress.
Ventrella says while the dog owners are seeking restitution for their dogs’ vet expenses and fees, this case is about more.
“Money is truly never going to undo this. This is something these families will live with for the rest of their lives, and as I stated in the lawsuit, these dogs are permanently damaged. You can’t get a new Yassie. you can’t get a new Kodiac,” she told News Ten.
The owner of a chocolate lab named Yassie, who is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, says she wants this lawsuit to set a standard.
“For other dog trainers to see that, you know, dog owners, pet owner, they are going to come after you. They are going to protect their animals. We’re not going to stop just because people claim their innocence. We’re going to stand up for what’s right,” Kayci Gonzales said.
Bradley Drell, the attorney representing Cypress Arrow K-9 Academy, the owner, and her daughter says the lawsuit is vague. He also questions if the the trainers’ actions rise to the level of abuse.
“The video of one dog being pushed down to the ground, it does not appear to be injured. Then there was the video of Phoenix, where they were using a quirt to keep the dog from biting through the leash because the dog was misbehaving. This is a Cane Corso dog, whose bite is stronger than a lions, and my clients are two small-framed females, who if they hadn’t done what they did to the dog, would have been injured themselves,” Drell said.
He adds there is also no national standard for dog trainers, and there’s disagreement between animal trainers as to what’s appropriate and what’s not.
“There’s going to be quite a lot of litigation to determine which dogs were harmed, if any, and to what extend they are entitled to damages for that. There’s also going to be issues with the contracts that they signed with Cypress Arrow that contained waivers of damage claims,” Drell added.
The attorney for the dog owners who filed the civil suit says she is not intimidated by Drell’s comments.
“No matter how vigorously someone tries to defend these acts, at the end of the day, there’s videos. There’s evidence,” Ventrella said.
After the training academy, the owner, and her daughter are served this civil suit, a discovery process will take place, where the plaintiffs will be able to ask questions to gather more information, get records, and see if there were any other instances of alleged animal abuse.
Drell adds the case could be heard in front of a jury if the monetary amount of damages the plaintiffs are requesting exceeds $50,000.