More former trainers from Apex non-profit Ry-Con Service Dogs are speaking out.
Rachel Murrane started her career as a service dog trainer working as a puppy raiser for the non-profit “Guiding Eyes for the Blind.”
In Feb. 2018, she says she started working for Ry-Con.
“It almost took everything I learned about service dog training and tossed it out the window,” Murrane said.
Murrane says she knows from experience – it takes a special dog to become a service dog, but she says Ry-Con owner Mark Mathis would not accept that.
“With these dogs not getting socialized properly some of them were not fit to be one, but he would try to make that dog a service dog no matter what,” Murrane said. “He didn’t seem to ever want to wash a dog.”
Murrane says a washout is a dog that is not suited for service dog work because of aggression, anxiety, or other issues.
Murrane says she was badly bitten by one of the dogs and it was sent home with a family the next day.
“I told Mark I got bit and the same dog snapped at two people in public when I was out training with it so he was well aware of those issues and still sent that dog home,” said Murrane.
Dogs would be returned to Mathis for aggression and that he wouldn’t refund a families money, she said. Mathis would re-sell the same dog to another family for the same amount of money.
“I think he should be paying back these families even if he has to spend the rest of his life doing so, so be it,” Murrane said. “He stole from them.”
Murrane says the majority of the trainers working at Ry-Con had no experience training service dogs.
“Mostly high schoolers, a good majority were just high schoolers,” she said. “A couple trainers that were trainers previously at PetSmart or Petco.”
The attorney general’s office is investigating the company. They’ve received 50 complaints since Ry-Con shut down late last year.