LANCASTER – Two Acton dog trainers have pleaded no contest to abusing several dogs under their care, authorities announced.
Junior Barillas Morales and Natasha Elena Ahmad, the operators of Real Deal K- 9s, pleaded no contest Wednesday to one felony count of animal cruelty, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Morales, 28, also pleaded to two additional felony counts of animal cruelty, one felony count of child abuse and one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty. He was immediately sentenced to five years in state prison.
Ahmad, 25, was sentenced to six months in jail, 45 days community labor, animal neglect classes, five years of probation and barred from owning or possessing any animals for 10 years.
The two also agreed to make a $10,000 payment toward an as-yet undetermined amount of restitution, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
According to testimony at the preliminary hearing, customers of Real Deal K-9s paid thousands of dollars to the dog training business and received very sick, thin dogs.
On Feb. 7, 2017, three very thin dogs were discovered by neighbors, according to evidence presented at the preliminary hearing. A subsequent investigation uncovered two dead dogs and eight additional dogs on the defendants’ property. One of the live dogs had to have a leg amputated due to an untreated infection, the prosecutor said.
On May 2, 2017, investigators searched the defendants’ home and found a loaded gun in a sofa where the couple’s three children, ages 1, 4, and 7, could find it, the prosecutor added. The home was extremely dirty and a total of 24 dogs were seized during that search, according to court testimony.
The case was investigated by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation and the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control.