5 On Your Side

Neglect alleged at dog training, boarding academy

Posted October 21, 2008
Updated October 22, 2008

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— After dropping her dog off for two weeks of boarding and training, Heather Doughty was surprised to see the results.

Doughty said her dog, Abbie, was filthy and had numerous bite marks, including ones down her right side and one on the back of one hip.

“She had open wounds on her neck. She had about four or five different sores about an inch apart on her neck,” Doughty said.

Doughty paid $500 for Abbie, who is less than a year old, to be boarded and trained at the Durham-based Dog Academy of N.C., owned by Michael Ward.

“He convinced me she'd come back a new dog,” Doughty said.

Ward said he uses “traditional” or punishment-based training methods.

“I’m not here to look pretty. I’m not here to be fancy. I’m just here to train your dog,” Ward said.

Ward, a graduate of The Tom Rose School of professional dog training in High Ridge, Mo., operates his academy out of his home.

Doughty said her dog also had an ear infection, had lost 10 pounds and acted very skittish. Doughty took Abbie to her veterinarian.

“As a veterinarian, I felt that there was some negligence or something done inappropriate with this dog,” Dr. John Dick said.

Dick said he was most concerned about Abbie's weight loss and demeanor.

“When she first came to us, she was a very happy puppy, and this visit … she was very anxious, I guess you could say. She was nervous from being handled, skittish about being restrained, just not normal behavior I would expect from a young puppy,” Dick said.

When Ward refused to refund any money, Doughty called 5 on Your Side.

Ward claimed Abbie arrived with the ear infection and said he pointed it out to Doughty.

As for the training, Ward said Abbie “was skittish when she came here.”

“The training they paid for is the training that I gave the dog. It's them who refused to be trained themselves in order to keep the level of training up,” Ward said.

Another dog owner who boarded her dog at the Academy in July said her Chihuahua escaped and wasn't found.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture requires boarding facilities be licensed. A 5 on Your Side investigation showed Ward’s facility is not licensed.

An inspector checked it out and noted some violations. Ward was given 30 days to make improvements to his facility and get a license.

As for dog training, different methods are available.

Experts recommend dog owners research training programs because the methods are often as important as the result.

One way to be sure the trainer is using methods you are comfortable with is to participate in the training with your dog, experts say.


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  • biohazard7934 Oct 23, 2008

    She took the dog there for boarding and was promised some basic obedience while they were out of town. They are my neighbors is how I know. She didnt just drop the dog off and expect him to totally train the dog. Either way, the dog came back abused injured and sick... that should be the focus here. Heck, this guy doesnt know the first thing about the dog... the dog was there for 2 weeks and he still calls her a he... stupid man cant eveen get the sex right. Even her vet concurred that the dog was abused and neglected.

  • FairPlay Oct 23, 2008

    Owners are the dog trainers. I do not know what this woman was expecting? She has to be a huge part of ther training so the dog knows to obey her at home.Just watch Cesar Milan in the Dog Whisperer. That is how you train dogs. You ra the pack leader, you adminster discipline and rules, and you punish if warrented.As an owner of a large Weimaraner even the books will tell you daily regimins and training must go on for life. Yes we do it and the result is a well behaved dog. The owner should be cited for laziness.

  • Pumba Oct 22, 2008

    I took my dog to Michael for his boarding training program and couldn't be happier with the results. When my dog went to Michael, he had both fear and aggression issues which I was incapable of handling. Other trainers have recommended either drugging my dog or just living with the problem and being careful about who I introduce my dog to.

    When I came to Michael, he flat out told me that I have to be a HUGE part of my dog's rehabilitation. In the weeks that my dog spent in boarding school, I was there almost every other day for at least two hours being trained with him. In fact, I think Michael spent as much time training me as he did my dog. He used both traditional and positive reinforcement methods. We always ended a training session with giving my dog lots of affection.

    In the end, I got back a dog whom I was able to take to AKC's Responsible Dog Ownership Day. My dog socialized well with both people and other dogs--something I NEVER thought possible.

  • DontBelieveTheHype Oct 22, 2008

    Blame the owner - those kinds of "training" camps are ridiculous and can only hurt the dog.

  • msudawg Oct 22, 2008

    This guy needs to find a new line of work. Nobody should drop their dog off for training. Training should be done by the owner. This allows the dog and the owner to bond. There are many good places to take a dog for training. All puppies should start puppy kindergarten by about 5 months of age so that they are exposed to a wide variety of situations, different people, other dogs, etc. Kindness should also be used when training, not hitting or instilling fear into a dog. That is all somebody needs is for a dog to become a fear biter. A dog should be confident and happy go lucky. I have trained many, many puppies over the years for myself and my other and all of my dogs have been great dogs but they have all gone to puppy kindergarten.

  • Silver loves Rebel Red puppies Oct 22, 2008

    I would never leave either of my girls with someone I didn't know, especially if I knew up front he be hitting them and calling it "traditional". I call it "in need of anger management". BOZO.

  • Old as Dirt Oct 22, 2008

    "Another dog owner who boarded her dog at the Academy in July said her Chihuahua escaped and wasn't found"

    Why wasn't this guy charged with "neglect" or something?

    The inspector gives him 30 days to get the license?
    Is the inspector's job to protect the animals? Guess not.

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy Oct 22, 2008

    The SCPA offers training classes at the Dog park where I take my puppy. Also Petsmart offers classes as well. This woman got ripped off.

  • B1H Oct 22, 2008

    There are several training classes out there that the owner can attend with the dog vs. just dropping him/her off for someone else to do all the work. This still should not have happened. Maybe this training place needs to be investigated to make sure nothing is going on that shouldn't be.

  • howdiditgettothis Oct 21, 2008

    For a dog to have several open wounds, and be "skittish" in nature AFTER being in your care Michael Ward obviously means something was done (or repeatedly done) to frighten and injure this dog.

    Yuha- right - you gave the "training" that the owner paid for --- anyone can beat & bully anything into submission.

    And regarding the owner -- get real. Do you think dropping your dog off at someone's house is going to snap your dog into behavior you want????

    Why on earth wouldn't you have taken the dog to the vet AND/OR
    used someone known to and recommended by YOUR veterinarian????

    Pet owners should research what type of dog would fit their family and/or lifestyle BEFORE they purchase a dog..(i.e. - certain breeds act certain ways..........)