Imagine taking your dog to a trainer and a few days later, he's missing.
11 News Is On Your Side with this Call For Action alert. Betty Sexton investigates what happened to one Colorado Springs family and the lesson we can all take away.
It all started with a complaint from a woman named Elizabeth Klug. "It was an absolute nightmare," Klug tells 11 News.
Elizabeth's dogs, Sullie and Finnie can be a little aggressive when strangers visit so she went online to find a trainer. She was impressed with the Rocky Mountain Dog Trainers Web site and the credentials for the owner and master trainer, Scott Martin.
She paid Scott a $1,312 deposit for his 30-day program to train and board her two dogs and her mother's miniature pinscher, too. But now she regrets it.
"If you love your animals, don't go anywhere near them," says Elizabeth.
She says three days after they dropped off the dogs, they went to visit, as they were encouraged to do. When they got there, Elizabeth was told one of the dogs had just gotten loose.
"We went around the back to where the kennels were. We did see Scott Martin and he immediately went back inside and didn't speak with us."
Elizabeth says that's when she and her husband started searching, near Nevada Avenue, a busy, four-lane street, and the surrounding area, which had a drainage ditch surrounded by tall grass and weeds.
"My husband eventually found him about 15-20 minutes later, covered in pond water in the bottom of the ditch near Nevada."
Elizabeth says once they recovered Finnie, she took all three dogs and asked Scott for a refund. "He said 'no problem, just call tomorrow during the business day and we'll get it taken care of.'"
But, a few days later, Elizabeth says she was told to read the contract, there would be no refund.
That's when Elizabeth made a Call For Action.
Our volunteer says Scott told her he would work out a refund with the family, but when the Klugs called back, they were again told, no refunds were due.
The 4-page contract the Klugs signed, addresses training and medical issues, but a refund policy isn't mentioned anywhere. Because of the confusion, Betty Sexton decided to talk to Scott face-to-face.
"Hi, I'm Betty with KKTV. We called you yesterday." Since Scott was meeting with a customer, a woman named April asked Betty to wait.
Later, Scott and April admitted that Finnie got loose and the Klugs found him, but they say it wasn't the picture the Klugs painted.
"Within five minutes, Finnie was found, so it's not like we had lost Finnie and he was covered in dirt and mud and suffering, no. He got loose," argues April.
Betty told them she understood that dogs will often run loose but when she asked about the refund policy, Scott became angry.
"Why don't you just say that in the contract, no refunds. It's not in there," Betty asks Scott.
"That's right. Do you dictate how I run my business?" responds Scott.
"Well, I'm just saying it would be easier for the customer..." Betty starts to say but is interrupted by Scott, " Get the f*** out of my face. Get out of my business," he demands as he gets in Betty's face.
"You're just as bad as the Klugs. You don't want to listen to nothing. We offered them everything. The fact remains, buyer's remorse." continues Scott.
And Scott's final words for KKTV: "The next time you come walking around here, watch out for the Pit bull."
Betty asked Scott about his criminal record before she leaves the business and he replies, "oh, and a long one, too."
Betty: "Oh, so you're threatening me now?"
KKTV didn't get a chance to ask Scott about a diploma hanging in his lobby and one he mentioned in a Web posting. It says he graduated from Denver University with a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology in 2002 from the Penn Zelink School of Science. DU tells 11 News they haven't offered a zoology degree for at least 100 years and they don't have a Penn Zelink School of Science.
After some investigating, Betty was able to find the Penn Zelink School of Science but it was not a prestigious college campus- it's actually on a Web site called "Magic Mill" that sells fake diplomas, two for $17.
Remember, before you hire anyone, do your homework. Rocky Mountain Dog Trainers has only been in business six months and in that time, the Better Business Bureau has given a C- rating, because of four complaints.
The BBB also ordered the Rocky Mountain Dog Trainers to stop using its logo on it's Web site implying it's a member, when it isn't.
Dog training is a $7 billion a year business and in Colorado, anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, since no official training or course work is required. Don't ever be afraid to ask about a company's refund policy. That way both parties know what's expected if things don't work out.
April Hand, from the Rocky Mountain Dog Trainers, called 11 News last night and when we asked her for a statement she says, "The total bill was $2,625 and the deposit was $1,312. Like many other deposits, that is non-refundable. They have only a limited amount of room and had to turn away other customers because the space had been reserved."
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