JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee dog trainer was sentenced to a year’s probation after pleading guilty to aggravated animal abuse in the starvation death of an animal in his care, the Johnson City Press reported.
In court, Andrew Hunigan apologized to the owners of the 8-month-old bull terrier named Dallas, saying he never intended to injure the dog and didn’t notice it was in medical distress.
Washington County Criminal Court Judge Lisa Rice rejected that assertion, saying, “Clearly Dallas was in need of nutrition or medical attention. The circumstances for that animal were horrific.”
The necropsy report from the University of Tennessee’s veterinary school said Dallas died from starvation and dehydration. The report showed the dog had 0% body fat and there was no food in the GI tract.
The dog lost half his body weight in the five weeks he was with Hunigan, officials said. Dallas remained in training that long supposedly because he was not getting the hang of potty training.
Defense attorney Daniel Boyd also told the judge that a necropsy showed Dallas had hydrocephalus, which could have led to behavioral issues that prompted Hunigan to extend the dog’s training time from two weeks to five.
Hunigan was sentenced to one year in prison, but was afforded the opportunity for probation because he has no criminal history. If he successfully completes that term, he can have the conviction expunged from his record.