JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — The owner of Off Leash K9 Training Tri-Cities and one of the company's trainers were arraigned Tuesday in Washington County Sessions Court on a charge of aggravated cruelty to animals.
A preliminary court date for Randi Laferney and Andrew Hunigan was set for June 12. Both turned themselves into Washington County authorities on Tuesday and are out on $10,000 bond.
Laferney and Hunigan are charged in the death of Dallas, a 9-month-old miniature bull terrier. Dallas died in the custody of Off Leash from starvation, according to a necropsy performed by University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center in Knoxville.
Laferney's attorney, Rick Spivey, maintains his client is innocent because Hunigan worked as an independent contractor.
"That's the reason that you all have vilified her for no reason," Spivey said.
In a phone call with News 5's John Engel on May 8, Laferney said the situation was an "accident" and that she was cooperating with any investigation.
More people have come forward to WCYB News 5 saying money for training services flowed through Off Leash K9 Training Tri-Cities and Laferney was aware of issues with Hunigan in the past.
Tabitha Wireman was a groomer for Robinson Animal Hospital in Johnson City, which shared space with Off Leash K9 Training.
"My biggest fear has already happened," Wireman told WCYB. "My biggest fear is dogs dying."
Wireman says she told Laferney about a dangerous infection at the homes of Andrew Hunigan and another Off Leash trainer.
"Randi's conversation to me was 'we will not stop the money flow, we will medicate,'" Wireman said.
Text messages between Laferney and a former client show the money flowed through Off Leash and the company processed a refund when Jennifer and Bill Boylan complained about Hunigan's treatment of their dog.
"We don't want this to happen again," Bill Boylan said. "We really don't want somebody to lose their dog, to be maimed or neglected."
A petition, "Justice for Dallas," now has more than 6,000 online signatures. You can see it here.