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SYLACAUGA, Ala. (WIAT) — A dog training facility in Sylacauga is facing allegations of animal abuse and neglect.
Denise Boyce says her beloved German shepherd puppy Gunner was beaten to death at the Iron Grip Dog Training and Boarding facility earlier this month.
“He was tortured. He had numerous wounds on his body, defecated on himself,” Boyce said. “He had already started smelling. He had raw bleeding scrotum and wounds above his eyes.”
On March 21, she signed Gunner up for a six-to-seven-week training program. On May 7, the night before she was set to come to see his progress, she got a call saying Gunner had died.
She said the facility owners Dylan and Savanah Shotwell told her they had taken him out for a walk and he simply “passed.” Boyce was in shock.
“I said there’s no way. He is 14 months old, 100 lbs, very healthy. He had seen his vet recently before he went in there,” Boyce said.
According to court records, Dylan Shotwell was arrested by the Talladega County Sheriff’s Office and charged with two counts of animal cruelty. His bond has since been revoked. His wife Savanah was also arrested for animal cruelty and hindering prosecution.
Boyce found the facility online and read good reviews, and even did a house visit to check it out. However, after she checked Gunner in and paid, she said their behavior turned unsettling and evasive.
“[Dylan Shotwell] had changed the name to ‘Push the Line K9 train’ right before notifying me that my dog passed away on his premises,” Boyce said.
When her son tried to pick Gunner up for a necropsy, she said the Shotwells refused to give him the body. He had to call the Talladega County Sheriff’s Office for help.
The family was able to take Gunner to the State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Auburn, and Boyce revealed even the experts were shocked by the extent of his injuries.
“It didn’t happen just overnight,” Boyce said.
Boyce is now in contact with other owners who say their dogs were abused or died at the hands of the facility. Now the grieving pet owners are banding together to fight for justice for their furry friends.
“Mine is gone, and I owe this to him,” Boyce said, holding back tears.
CBS 42 reached out to the Shotwells and the Talladega County Sheriff’s Office for comment but did not hear back at the time of this article’s publication.