Dog trainers accused of abuse to do time
One received five years in prison, the other six months in jail
Two Acton dog trainers accused of abusing more than two dozen dogs in their care were sentenced recently, one netting five years in prison, the other six months in jail.
Junior Barillas Morales, 28, and 24-year-old Natasha Elena Ahmad appeared May 30 in Antelope Valley Superior Court where they pleaded no contest for abusing 26 dogs under their care, said Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Morales and Ahmad each entered a plea to one felony count of animal cruelty.
Additionally, Morales pleaded to two additional felony counts of animal cruelty, one felony count of child abuse and one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty.
Deputy District Attorney Amarilla Blondia said defendant Morales was immediately sentenced to five years in state prison.
Ahmad was sentenced to six months in jail, five years of formal probation, 45 days of community labor, animal neglect classes and additional conditions imposed by the court including a prohibition on owning or possessing any animals for 10 years.
The defendants operated a dog training business called Real Deal K-9's, according to testimony at the preliminary hearing.
Close to four dozen dogs were found at the operation when authorities moved in.
“There were a total of 45 dogs confiscated, two of which were found dead. All the other live dogs were nursed back to health and adopted,” Don Belton, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control said Monday.
“A total of 43 dogs were adopted,” she said.
Customers of the business allege they paid thousands of dollars and received very sick, thin dogs.
On Feb. 7, 2017, three very thin dogs were discovered by neighbors, according to evidence presented at the preliminary hearing.
A subsequent investigation uncovered two deceased dogs and eight additional dogs in the defendant's property.
One of the live dogs had to have a leg amputated due to an untreated infection, the prosecutor said.
On May 2, 2017, investigators searching the defendant's home allegedly found a loaded gun in a sofa where the couple's three children, ages 1, 4 and 7, could find it, the prosecutor added. The home was extremely dirty and a total of 24 dogs were seized during that search, according to court testimony.
The case was investigated by the District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation and the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control.