Bay Area dog trainer sentenced for 4 felony counts of animal abuse

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Following an impassioned plea from a dog trainer expressing remorse for what happened to four dogs under his company's care, a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge sentenced Garry Reynolds to two years in prison for felony gross negligence in the abuse of four dogs. Judge Patricia Scanlon gave the prosecution less than half of what they wanted, but she also had harsh words for the defendant.

Clearly uncomfortable, Garry Reynolds of Contra Costa County put his hands on his face and fidgeted with his mask as a judge denied motions for a new trial and for reducing the charges to misdemeanors.

The judge did agree to not consider two convictions on his record that would have made this a three-strikes case, one for burglary and one for shooting at an inhabited residence.

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At one point, court stopped as Reynolds complained of dizziness. He took a sip of water and replaced his mask with a shield provided by the court.

Later judge Patricia Scanlon scolded him for not showing any remorse.

But in his testimony, Reynolds said the opposite was true. "I love dogs. What changed my life was dogs. It wasn't going to prison," Reynolds said.

Reynolds ran NorCal K9 out of a home on Lone Tree Way in Antioch. He moved out and left the dogs under the care of Devon Ashby, who pleaded to misdemeanor charges.

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Two of the dogs, Rambo and Zeus, had to be euthanized.

Reynolds's attorney Matt Fregi said if had he known, Reynolds would had intervened.

Prosecutor Arsh Singh said he doesn't believe a word of that.

"At the time he left 5200, he knew the number of dogs that were in that house could not have been taken care of by one person," said Singh.

Fregi countered that his client had turned his life around from a troubled childhood. saying, "He decided he wanted to help other people who were in the same position as him not do the same things at him. He began a company which became one of the most successful in California, if not the nation."

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The judge acknowledged Reynolds has made some strides, but said it was time for judgement day.

"Nothing is ever your fault. 'It's all Devon Ashby's fault.' It is not Devon Ashby's fault. These dogs were your responsibility. You are NorCal K9 Training," she said.

Judge Scanlon says this is an example of what can happen in an unregulated industry.

That's something we've tried to shine light on in our coverage. A bill 7 on Your Side inspired that would bring some oversight to the industry has been stalled due to the pandemic. But Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer Krahan has pledged that next year she will reintroduce the state bill that would, for the first time, impose minimum standards on dog trainers.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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