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Animal cruelty charge dropped against Johnson City training facility owner in dog death case

Becky Campbell • Updated Jan 30, 2020 at 7:15 PM

Updated:

State prosecutors Thursday dropped an animal cruelty charge against a woman who owns a Johnson City dog training franchise, but continued with a tampering with evidence charge in the same case.

Last May, Randi LaFerney, 55, owner of Off Leash K9 Training East Tennessee, and trainer Andrew “Andy” Hunigan, 28, were charged with one count each of aggravated animal cruelty after an 8-month-old bull terrier named Dallas died in Hunigan’s care.

LaFerney later faced an additional charge of tampering with evidence, resulting from an allegation she attempted to have the dog cremated without the owner's consent.

On Thursday, prosecutors asked a judge to dismiss the animal cruelty charge against Laferney. Prosecutors said there was no evidence Laferney had direct contact with the dog before its death. During the time Dallas was in training, the dog’s owners only had contact with Hunigan, according to previous testimony in the case.

LaFerney’s attorney, Rick Spivey, said the state’s move showed his client was innocent.

“Randi LaFerney was publicly exonerated and vindicated today for the animal cruelty charges. She is not guilty of the tampering with evidence charges.”

Spivey said newspaper, television and social media has “vilified this lady. They should be publicly shamed and embarrassed the same way she has. In the United States of America a person is innocent until proven guilty.”

Six weeks after the family dropped off the dog at Laferney’s business, it was dead from starvation and dehydration, according to a necropsy report completed by the University of Tennessee veterinary school. The report showed the dog had 0% body fat and there was no presence of food in the GI tract. The dog had lost half his body weight in the time he was with Hunigan, officials said. Dallas remained in training that long supposedly because he was not getting the hang of potty training.

Prosecutors plan to try LaFerney and Hunigan together, but no trial date has been set. There is a motion hearing scheduled for Feb. 28.

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Reported earlier:

State prosecutors Thursday dropped an animal cruelty charge against a woman who owns a Johnson City dog training franchise, but continued with a tampering with evidence charge in the same case.

Last May, Randi LaFerney, 55, owner of Off Leash K9 Training East Tennessee, and trainer Andrew “Andy” Hunigan, 28, had been charged with one count each of aggravated animal cruelty after an 8-month-old bull terrier named Dallas died in Hunigan’s care.

LaFerney later received an additional charge of tampering with evidence, resulting from an allegation she attempted to have the dog cremated without the owner's consent.

On Thursday, prosecutors asked a judge to dismiss the animal cruelty charge against Laferney. Prosecutors said there was no evidence Laferney had direct contact with the dog before its death. During the time Dallas was in training, the dog’s owners only had contact with Hunigan, according to previous testimony in the case.

Six weeks after the family dropped off the dog at Laferney’s business, it was dead from starvation and dehydration, according to a necropsy report completed by the University of Tennessee veterinary school. The report showed the dog had 0% body fat and there was no presence of food in the GI tract. The dog had lost half his body weight in the time he was with Hunigan, officials said. Dallas remained in training that long supposedly because he was not getting the hang of potty training.

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