Dog owners blame pet deaths, disappearances on Northern California dog trainer

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip via KGO logo
Friday, July 1, 2022
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Two Northern California families are blaming a dog trainer with San Francisco ties for the disappearance and death of their dogs.

AUBURN, Calif. (KGO) -- Two Northern California families are blaming a dog trainer with San Francisco ties for the disappearance and death of their dogs. The same dog trainer is facing misdemeanor charges of animal neglect and operating without a kennel license in Nevada County.

While in Placer County, the sheriff's department is recommending that similar charges be filed there.

Megan Badger of Auburn introduces us to her 1-year-old son, Knox.

She became nervous when her 4-year-old French bulldog became jealous of her then-newborn.

"He did show a little aggression so as soon as that happened, then I looked into training," she said.

RELATED: Bill to protect dog families and pets from unqualified trainers passes assembly committee

Maureen Kelly of Applegate says her two dogs, Quinn and Luna, grew up being best friends.

She wanted them to get basic training.

"Just basic obedience is what I wanted. I wanted them to sit, obey and come to my command," she said.

Both Badger and Kelly sent their dogs to Auburn K9.

They both say they regretted it.

Both want to know what Auburn K9 dog trainer and co-owner Antoine DeShaun Moore did with their dogs.

RELATED: Families remember lost pets amid renewed calls for regulation of dog training industry

"I feel helpless because I can't physically make Antoine talk and tell me anything," said Badger.

Kelly says Quinn and Luna were never the same after they returned from Auburn K9.

Physically, she described them as "abused."

"It was evident they were abused," Kelly said. "They were skinny. They were, they lost weight. They were malnourished. They were dehydrated."

She says both appeared nervous and always on edge after they returned.

One day she says a delivery driver left her gate slightly ajar.

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

From paw prints she saw on the ground, she believes Luna and Quinn were confronted by a mountain lion.

"When they were found 12 days later... I'm so sorry," Kelly said. "When they were found 12 days later by a hiker down here in the canyon, they were together still and they... and Luna was in one piece, but Quinn, she was in all sorts of different pieces."

Quinn had been mauled.

The family believes the two were too weak to defend themselves.

In a phone interview, Moore told 7 On Your Side: "When the dogs left my care, they were totally fine. I don't know how me as an animal trainer can leave a dog defenseless against a mountain lion."

RELATED: Dogs would gain protection in California under new dog trainer bill

Badger can relate to Kelly's story. She too felt wronged by Moore. Badger hasn't seen her dog Winston since April, when she dropped him off at Auburn K9.

She woke one night to the notification of a text from him about her 4-and-a-half-year French bulldog. She said it read something like this: "'When I was putting a leash on him, he nipped at me and scared me and he bit me and got away,'" said Badger.

It happened at McLaren Park in San Francisco, where Moore's bio says he grew up.

Moore told 7 On Your Side: "It was an unfortunate situation. I just lost her dog. I didn't mean to lose her dog."

"I think it's just the unknown. I think if we found, if we were able to question Antoine. If we were told, 'he did die.' I need that closure or 'he did sell him?'" said Badger.

No formal charges have been filed against Moore in Placer County, but he remains under investigation.

RELATED: Two dog deaths spark concern about lack of regulations for dog trainers

Angela Musallam is with the Placer County Sheriff's Department.

"He engaged in fraud. He made numerous victims believe that he was going to train their dogs and he took their money. Thousands and thousands of dollars and their dogs weren't trained," said Musallam.

The Placer County Sheriff's Department has forwarded its case to the DA's office for prosecution.

A decision on whether to move forward with the case by the DA is pending.

Jason Doolittle of Auburn left his dog Liberty with Moore and Auburn K9.

Training didn't go as planned and Moore agreed to extend the training for free.

Then one day, Moore contacted Doolittle with news that Nevada County Animal Control was at his home, where he had taken Liberty.

Moore told 7 On Your Side: "One day I overslept and the dog peed in the crate."

But Doolittle says the Nevada County Animal Control officer put it differently.

"She told me the conditions were deplorable. She said that our dog Libby was caked in feces and urine. She was in a small travel-sized crate in a garage with no ventilation, doors were closed. Windows were closed. No air condition(ing)," Doolittle said.

Liberty is part of a complaint charging Moore with three misdemeanor counts of "unlawfully permitting the animal to be in a building without proper care and attention."

A fourth misdemeanor count charges him with "operating or maintaining a kennel without a proper kennel license."

The DA's office says dogs have been seized from Moore's home four times by animal control since December due to poor living conditions.

Moore says that is not accurate and says dogs were seized from his home once due to a storm that caused flooding.

A bill from Assemblymember Adrian Nazarian (D - Hollywood Hills) and inspired by 7 On Your Side's coverage of dog trainers would require dog trainers to disclose their training methods, any licenses they have or training they've received and mandates the disclosure related to any civil judgments and criminal animal cruelty convictions.

"What this bill will do is establish the accountability and also the recourse of being able to take trainers to court," said Assemblymember Nazarian.

Doolittle believes the bill will protect dog families in the future.

"We absolutely would not have used him had we known that there was no licensing, had we known his dogs had been seized due to the conditions," he said.

Nazarian's bill has already been approved by the assembly and this week passed out of the senate judiciary committee.

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

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