TX Dog Trainer Charged With Animal Cruelty

Craig Hanna
Craig Hanna | Image by SPCA of Texas

A man offering board-and-train services in Hunt County was arrested on animal cruelty charges last week.

Deputies from the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office arrested Craig Hanna, the owner of United K9 Academy in Caddo Mills, and booked him into Hunt County Jail on April 3. The SPCA of Texas Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit, which opened a probe into Hanna after receiving a complaint in July 2023, filed a Class A misdemeanor charge of cruelty to non-livestock animals against him.

The person who filed the complaint had gone to pick his two dogs up after a two-week board-and-train program at United K9 Academy that summer only to allegedly find them covered in urine and barely able to move. The dogs — Kato and Duke — were later treated for severe dehydration and malnutrition. Duke, a mixed breed, required further hospitalization after allegedly losing 13 pounds.

“We’re happy to report that Duke was able to pull through, make a full recovery, and is back to being spoiled by his family,” said Courtney Burns, a chief investigator for the SPCA of Texas, in a news release.

Burns suggested that owners do background checks to avoid falling victim to a board-and-train program or caretaking service of questionable repute.

“We strongly advise pet owners to do their research when choosing a trainer or boarding their pets. A reputable business should be able to provide references and allow you to tour the facility,” said Burns.

If found guilty of the misdemeanor charge, Hanna could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and $4,000 in fines. State law provides several ways for animals to find protection from cruelty, with punishments for offenders varying depending on the gravity of the case.

For instance, last summer, a woman from Collin County named Rachel Ann Sword was arrested on a third-degree felony charge of animal cruelty after the authorities found 12 dead horses and 24 dead dogs on her grandparents’ land. As reported by The Dallas Express, Sword had been residing in an RV on the property and blamed depression in the wake of her husband’s death for her failure to feed and water the animals.

Dallas has logged 34 animal cruelty cases this year as of April 7 — a year-over-year hike of 21.4%, per the City’s crime analytics dashboard.

The SPCA of Texas, based in Dallas, has rescued 1,319 animals from cruelty, not to mention the organization’s other work to see pets fostered, adopted, and given medical care, including spay and neuter services. The Dallas Police Department has a team dedicated to investigating animal cruelty cases, but its members also assist in tackling property crime, which is on the rise citywide. Despite a City analysis recommending a force of around 4,000 officers to ensure public safety, DPD fields only about 3,000.

City leaders recently approved a $654 million budget for DPD this fiscal year, which falls far below the spending on police in other high-crime jurisdictions, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.

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