Knoxville Duck Donuts franchise owner releases statement amid animal cruelty case
The franchise owner of a local doughnut shop is reportedly connected to an animal cruelty case in Johnson City.
, Randi LaFerney was charged with aggravated animal cruelty and appeared in a Washington County courtroom on Tuesday along with trainer Andrew Hunigan.
On the morning of May 17, LaFerney reportedly sent a
, "I have been involved in animal advocacy for 20 years. 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," the statement continued. LaFerney added that she had "no idea" anything was wrong with the dog until she heard it had died.
while being boarded at Off Leash K9 Training, a facility that LaFerney also reportedly owned.
Director of the Washington County Tennessee Animal Shelter said they were told about the death on May 2. “From the pictures we have acquired, it appears the dog's death could have been and should have been prevented,” Director Tammy Davis said.
WJHL reported that Dallas, an 8-month-old miniature bull terrier was taken to the facility on March 18 for a two-week stay, but ended up staying six weeks. At the time, the dog reportedly weighed 32 pounds.
The company reportedly requested that the dog be allowed to stay longer for obedience training.
The dog's family's attorney, Bob King, told WJHL that the company told the company they couldn't visit the dog because it would interrupt the dog's training. King said the family wasn't told of any health problems the dog may have had, but on May 1, the family was told that the dog had died.
WJHL reported when the family retrieved the dog's body, it weighed about 16 pounds. The family then reached out to animal control and the animal shelter.
Duck Donuts released a statement on Wednesday saying they were aware of the concerns surrounding LaFerney.
"We are aware of the recent allegations pertaining to the franchise owner of the Knoxville location and her other business. Duck Donuts has taken this matter very seriously and kept an ongoing conversation with the owner during the investigation."
Photos were taken of the dog at the time of its death, which are quite graphic in nature and could be disturbing for some viewers.