KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The owner of a popular doughnut shop in Knoxville says she was unaware of any issues with a dog that died at a pet obedience business she owns in Johnson City.
Randi LaFerney and Andrew Hunigan, identified as a trainer at the business, Off Leash K9 Training, in Johnson City, appeared in a Washington County court Tuesday on charges of aggravated animal cruelty involving an eight-month-old miniature bull terrier named Dallas.
Dallas had 0% fat content and there was no presence of food in the GI tract, according to a necropsy done by the UT Vet School, but released to the media by a Johnson City animal shelter.
LeFerney and Hunigan have a June 12 preliminary court hearing.
News of the animal cruelty charges and the dog’s death have sparked social media outrage and backlash against the Knoxville doughnut shop owned by LeFerney, Duck Donuts at the corner of Kingston Pike and Northshore Drive.
“I have been involved in animal advocacy for 20 years,” LaFerney said in a statement released by her attorney. “I have never been charged for a crime related to my animal ventures or anything else.”
“The first time I laid eyes on Dallas other than his puppy consult in December was on May 2nd after I received a heart breaking call that he had died.
“I pride myself on my respect and care for animals and hire trainers with the same attitude. I trust that they care for these animals the way I would.
“I can honestly say at this time that I do not know what happened, but I do know I had absolutely no idea that Dallas was anything but a healthy dog until I learned of his untimely death.
“I have expressed my deepest sympathies to Dallas’ owners and will continue to do so. This isolated incident is not a reflection of my business and goes against everything I have worked so hard for 20 years.”