The Snohomish County Animal Services department conducted an investigation of the Bothell-based Academy of Canine Behavior after a video showing what some claimed was animal abuse surfaced in recent weeks.
Snohomish County auditor Carolyn Weikel said an animal control officer conducted an unannounced inspection of the dog training facility on June 27 after they received an anonymous tip containing a video of what appeared to be a dog being beaten with a plastic bat. The officer found that the kennels were clean, the animals had adequate food and water and the dogs did not appear distressed or injured.
“The animals were not in distress, there were no signs that anything were askew or inappropriate,” Weikel said.
The owners of the kennel told the officer the dog pictured in the video was highly aggressive and had shown signs of aggression and its owner had asked for help training it. In the video, a trainer is seen hitting the dog around the head and face with a plastic bat that had its end removed. This makes the bat more flexible and hit with less of an impact. Due to this, the officer found the behavior shown in the video was not a crime.
“The dog did not suffer any injuries, and based on the definition of animal cruelty or animal abuse in the RCW, it did not rise to that occasion,” Weikel said.
Under state law (RCW 16.52) a person must cause substantial pain, physical injury, death or undue suffering to an animal for an action to rise to a criminal offense.
The investigation was closed following the inspection and no charges were filed. However, at least two additional complaints had been filed with animal services concerning the kennel and animal control officers were trying to get more information. However, Weikel said the owner of the dog shown in the video had not contacted animal services.
“We closed that investigation. Because of all the social media swirling around this, we received, I think it was one or two calls from additional people saying, ‘I’ve got a story to tell too,’ and we are in the process of getting them to do a witness statement to talk with them,” Weikel said.
The Reporter has additionally filed a public records request seeking complaints or investigations involving the Academy of Canine Behavior over the last three years. The owners of the kennel said in a story published on July 24 that the training technique seen in the video was not standard and the kennel owners do not condone the actions seen in it.
After the video went viral on social media, the owners of the kennel said they had been flooded with threats, including death threats, with one man calling more than 40 times in one day.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.