WOODSTOCK, Ill. (CBS) — The CBS 2 Morning Insiders are on the case of an accused dog abuser, due in court Monday.
Police said the animal trainer in McHenry County abused and did not properly feed a dog in his care.
Now, former clients are reaching out to investigators with their own stories. CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas spoke with some of them.
Sean Arnold is as tough as they come – a Marine who earned a Purple Heart in Iraq. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t choke up easily.
But then again, the story he told us isn’t easy for him or his girlfriend, Megan Novak, to tell.
“It’s tough,” Arnold said.
They hired Ryan Thomas back in May to board and train their dog, Rykah. A few weeks later, Arnold was so excited to pick Rkyah up that he filmed it.
Then he discovered a sore on his dog.
“I bent down, started petting her, and realized how bony she was,” Arnold said.
He took his exhausted dog to the veterinarian’s office, where the staff shaved her and noted “three spots on skin with hairs glued to each other with red skin underneath.”
The report described Rykah as “very thin” and “underfed.”
“A lot of people say, ‘Well, if I was you I would have done this.’ I’m like: ‘I’m better than that. I’m better than him. I just wanted her to get her home.’”
Novak emailed Animal Control in June, and the couple is talking to a lawyer to try to collect the full refund Thomas promised in writing.
And now that Arnold has heard about Thomas’ arrest for abusing a different dog, he is also in touch with the McHenry County Sheriff’s office.
“You think it’s an isolated case, and you just go, OK, I want to take our legal action the way we see fit. I know legal things take a long time,” Arnold said. “So we weren’t pursuing it as fast as maybe we should have at first.”
Police arrested Thomas earlier this month, after officers discovered Regina Snyder’s dog, Abigail, malnourished in his care.
Snyder said she took Abigail and two other dogs to Thomas, and he agreed to board them, train them, and help sell the dogs to loving homes.
But then, Thomas stopped giving her straight answers.
“And I started to feel really uneasy about what’s happening and where my puppies were,” Snyder said.
She said she showed up with police and animal care and got Abigail back. A police report said Thomas claimed Snyder’s other two dogs “ran into the woods,” and had been killed by coyotes, and he buried them “in the valley.”
Snyder does not know what to believe.
“This isn’t what I wanted for them,” she said. “The whole thing I wanted was for them to have good homes.”
[anvplayer video=”4289250″ station=”CBS Chicago
Investigators later seized six other dogs and two cats from the property, and the county said at least a few of the owners still have to be verified.
A county representative confirmed investigators are looking into more stories about Thomas.
Thomas appeared in court Monday and several of his former clients, who are calling for more charges against him, were also in the courtroom.
He stayed silent as a CBS 2 reporter asked him outside the courtroom “Is there anything you’d like to say to the clients who say you abused their animals?”
He has not entered a plea yet and he is due back in court Jan. 22.