A Connecticut dog trainer is charged with animal cruelty. Documents detail evidence on 2 ’emaciated’ animals. — Hartford Courant


The owner of a Connecticut dog training and boarding facility, now operating under a new name, is due to appear in court soon to face animal cruelty charges based on what investigators allegedly found after two dogs in his care “mauled and killed” a mini- schnauzer, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Thomas Hunt Jr., 56, of Naugatuck was charged with two counts of animal cruelty at his former Eagle K-9 Academy facility, 809 Carrington Road, Bethany, records show. He is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in New Haven on Aug. 12. Prosecutor Joseph Lamotta declined to comment because the case is pending.

The training facility has been renamed, Perfection with Affection K-9 Academy at the same address. Thomas Hunt Sr. and another man are listed as the top members of the training team.

In addition to the criminal charges, the state Animal Control inspections in the last year have cited alleged safety and sanitary violations at Eagle K-9 Academy, now marked “TEMP. CLOSED” on its website.

Hunt’s attorney, Sally Pruitt did not return several calls for comment.

Hunt said in a text, “I have been ordered to not comment.”

Hunt’s criminal charges stem from the alleged extreme weight loss of two Cane Corso breed dogs that boarded with his facility over several months, the warrant affidavit says. The Cane Corso breed is an Italian breed of mastiff usually owned as a companion or guard dog.

The condition of the dogs — one called “emaciated” in the warrant affidavit — was brought to the attention of Woodbridge Animal Control after Hunt reported by phone on April 8 that the Cane Corsos had “mauled and killed” the mini schnauzer..

Hunt told animal control the attack occurred after an employee, “failed to secure a latch,” according to a warrant authored by Animal Control Officer Karen Lombardi.

The dogs that attacked — one a male, one a female — were brought to the Woodbridge animal control facility for quarantine and were found to be “extremely underweight,” the warrant affidavit states.

Lombardi wrote in the warrant affidavit: “It is through my training and expertise that I know that it is a training tactic to deprive food to the animal in an attempt to use food as a reward.”

The warrant documents the weight concerns in detail.

Moose, male of four years, 11 months, weighed 87.3 pounds, while veterinary paperwork showed that about two months earlier Moose weighed 130 pounds, according to the warrant.

The other Cane Corso, a female , Nova, three years and nine months old weighed 88.7 pounds . and records from two months earlier showed she weighed 98 pounds, according to the warrant .

The warrant states that on April 12, Lombardi, along with state animal control officer Charles DellaRocco interviewed the owner of the dogs, a North Haven man who told them he dropped the dogs off for boarding because he was going through a divorce and needed a place for them while going through the transition.

The owner told animal control officers that he dropped the dogs off in December 2021 in “good health,” but now they looked “malnourished and skin and bones,” the warrant states.

On April 12, the dogs were taken to Animal Clinic of Milford, and examined by a veterinarian who confirmed the dogs were underweight, with Moose’s “spine and ribs” prominent on a visual exam, according to the warrant affidavit.

Hunt told investigators he was feeding the dogs “six cups of food a day,” the warrant states.

When a state inspecting noted in January 2022 that the dogs’ rabies shot weren’t current, Hunt is quoted in the warrant as saying, “I probably should have taken them to the vet.”

Soon after the investigation was underway the facility on Carrington Road was renamed, Perfection with Affection K-9 Academy.

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The website of Perfection with Affection states their slogan as, “Strengthening the Bond of Trust Between Dogs and Their People.”

Eagle K-9 slogan was “Perfection with affection.”

The “team” at Perfection with Affection is listed as Thomas Hunt Sr., “a certified master trainer and graduated from the US K9 Academy around 30 years ago,” as well as the defendant, Thomas Hunt Jr., described as, “a certified master trainer and began training dogs at a young age. He is a graduate of the US K9 Academy. Thomas Jr. also served four years in the United States Marine Corps.”

A message From Thomas Jr. on the website states: “When you say a dog is a man’s best friend, that is our ultimate goal.. Seeing the transformation from a wild puppy to a well-behaved and happy dog ​​is amazing and what keeps us going here.”

In the last year Eagle K-9 Academy received at least one warning from the state’s Department of Animal Control Unit following inspections and inspections revealed alleged violations, according to records obtained through the Freedom of Information act.

In many cases the claims were around safety and sanitation.

Alleged mouse violations have ken included: feces and urine in the runs and nels, a puddle of urine in the, no mechanical ventilation, inadequate drainage, old fencing with no top, extremely fan and ceiling, lack of dirty repairs that could cause injury, injury feces near a kitchen sink area. One report stated that five of nine dogs were not up to date with rabies shots and eight of nine didn’t have licenses.

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