Huntsville dog owner raises concern after viral video, dog trainer fired

Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 5:31 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Ashlyn Walton is an avid dog lover and a dog mom herself.

Colt was freshly enrolled at Off Leash K9 of Huntsville for four days until she was emailed a certain video involving franchise owner Ciara Stevens.

“I was watching it and it just... My anxiety went through the roof. It was horrible,” Walton said. “And I felt completely helpless, I felt so sad, I immediately got in my car, called my dad, called the facility and said I’m coming to pick up my dog. This is not okay.”

Owners are regularly emailed videos of their pets being trained, but this was sent in error to Walton. She then uploaded it to Facebook.

After Colt was brought home, Walton noticed something was different.

“He would not leave my side, he was sensitive around his neck, he had sores on his leg, I figured maybe that was from being in a crate, I don’t know,” she continued. “But I could definitely tell the difference in him and it was terrifying to think about what could have been done.”

Off Leash K9 released the following statement regarding the incident stating:

The OffLeash K9 Training Family takes the safety and well-being of all dogs seriously. Each company location is licensed to an independent owner and operator who has extensive dog training experience. Every owner and trainer must train every dog in their care in a manner that meets or exceeds our rigorous standards and follows all company policies at all times. The recent incident at the Huntsville, Alabama location violated those standards and polices. The owner of the location was terminated as a result of their conduct. The OffLeash K9 Family does not condone or accept the behavior displayed. A qualified trainer, with direct supervision from company headquarters, has assumed the management of this location to ensure that all customers, whether they have two hands or four paws, receive professional care and service.

Colt was supposed to be in a two-week program. Now, the plans have changed.

“My trust is gone. I mean, this isn’t the first time an incident like this has happened in this franchise. I’m sure there are a lot of great trainers in this franchise, but no, how could I, you know?”

The WAFF 48 has reached out to Ciara Stevens for comment but has not heard back.

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