The owner of a dog training and boarding facility in Connecticut, now operating under a new name, is due to appear in court soon to be charged with animal cruelty based on what investigators allegedly found after two dogs in his care a mini schnauzer, according to an affidavit of an arrest warrant.
Thomas Hunt Jr., 56, of Naugatuck was charged with two animal cruelty charges at his former Eagle K-9 Academy facility, 809 Carrington Road, Bethany, records show. He is due to appear before the Superior Court in New Haven on August 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 inspectorates have cited alleged safety and sanitation violations at Eagle K-9 Academy, now marked “TEMP. CLOSED” on its website.
Hunt’s attorney, Sally Pruitt, did not answer several calls for comment.
Hunt said in a text message, “I have been instructed not to comment.”
Hunt’s criminal charges stem from the alleged extreme weight loss of two Cane Corso breed dogs that were on board at his facility for several months, the affidavit says. The Cane Corso breed is an Italian mastiff breed commonly kept as a companion or guard dog.
The dogs’ condition — one called “starving” in the affidavit — was brought to the attention of Woodbridge Animal Control after Hunt reported by telephone on April 8 that the Cane Corsos had “mashed and killed” the mini schnauzer.
Hunt told animal control the attack happened after an employee “failed to secure a bolt,” according to a warrant prepared by Animal Control Officer Karen Lombardi.
The dogs that attacked — one man, one woman — were taken to the Woodbridge animal control facility for quarantine and found to be “extremely underweight,” the affidavit said.
Lombardi wrote in the affidavit of the warrant, “Through my training and expertise, I know that it is a training tactic to deprive the animal of food in an effort to use food as a reward.”
The warrant documents the weight issues in detail.
Moose, a male of four years and 11 months, weighed 87.3 pounds, while veterinary paperwork indicated that about two months earlier, Moose weighed 130 pounds, according to the warrant.
The other Cane Corso, a female, Nova, aged three years and nine months, weighed 88.7 pounds. and data from two months earlier showed she weighed 98 pounds, according to the warrant.
The warrant states that on April 12, Lombardi, along with Charles DellaRocco, the state animal control officer, interviewed the owner of the dogs, a North Haven man who told them he dropped the dogs off boarding school because he was going through a divorce and needed a place. for them during the transition.
The owner told animal control that he dropped off the dogs in “good health” in December 2021, but now they looked “malnourished and skin-colored,” the warrant said.
On April 12, the dogs were taken to the Milford Veterinary Clinic and examined by a veterinarian who confirmed the dogs were underweight, with Moose’s “spine and ribs” prominent on a visual examination, according to the affidavit.
Hunt told the researchers he fed the dogs “six cups of food a day,” the order said.
When a state inspection in January 2022 noted that the dogs’ rabies shots were not current, Hunt said in the warrant, “I probably should have taken them to the vet.”
Shortly after the investigation got underway, the Carrington Road facility was renamed Perfection with Affection K-9 Academy.
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The Perfection with Affection website lists their tagline as, “Strengthening the bond of trust between dogs and their people.”
Eagle K-9’s tagline was “Perfection with Affection.”
The “team” at Perfection with Affection is listed as Thomas Hunt Sr., “a certified master trainer and a graduate of the American K9 Academy about 30 years ago,” as well as the defendant, Thomas Hunt Jr., described as “a licensed master trainer and started trained dogs from an early age, a graduate of the American K9 Academy. Thomas Jr. also served in the United States Marine Corps for four years.”
A message from Thomas Jr. 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 good and happy dog is amazing and what keeps us going here.”
In the past year, Eagle K-9 Academy received at least one warning from the state’s Animal Control Department after inspection and inspections revealed alleged violations, according to data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
In many cases, the alleged violations concerned safety and sanitation.
Alleged violations included: feces and urine in the run and kennels, a pool of urine in the lobby, no mechanical ventilation, inadequate drainage, old fencing with no top, extremely dirty fan and ceiling, lack of repairs that could cause injury, mouse droppings near a sink. A report stated that five of the nine dogs were unaware of the rabies shots and eight of the nine were unlicensed.