More owners claim local trainer scammed them, returned dogs sick and injured

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Two families claim they gave a local dog trainer, Lisa Berry, thousands of dollars for weeks of training that didn’t happen.

The families claim it took begging, threats, even police intervention, to return the dogs weeks after she was scheduled to – untrained, malnourished, and in some cases, injured.

The story gained hundreds of comments on social media, and we got dozens of emails from people claiming Berry took advantage of them in the same way.

Lisa Berry, also known as Rene, started dodging families’ calls and putting off a go-home-date, saying she was sick, out of town, or dealing with a family emergency. And the worst similarity between all these families’ stories? The condition of their dogs when they finally got them back.

Carl McBride has a special bond with his buddy, Bandit.

“I am a veteran, and he’s you know he’s my bud, he gets me through some hard times,” said McBride. 

But this is not the same Bandit he handed over for training in October.

“Spent about $3,700. Three months and I get this,” said McBride. 

His best bud lost 15 pounds, has cuts all over his paws and body, and shows no signs of any training.

“This, this is not acceptable. It’s criminal, it’s criminal,” McBride said. 

He trusted Berry with Duke City Dog Academy to train Bandit to welcome a new dog into their home. But when the training deadline came so did the excuses.

“She kept saying that the deadline’s pushed out because she’s sick, and the holidays, and one excuse after another, I never got any pictures,” said McBride. 

Linda Davis got the same set of excuses.

“Rene was sick, ‘we’re so sorry Rene,’ you know, the last thing was Rene’s grandfather’s in the ICU, and she has to go to California,” said Davis. 

She followed a recommendation and paid $5,000 in September for Berry to train her Australian Shepherd Matilda.

“I was a little nervous about it, but basically I thought ‘six weeks she’ll be such a better dog, it’ll be safer to walk her without pulling us down like they do,'” Davis said. 

Matilda didn’t lose her loving spirit, but lost plenty of weight in Berry’s care.

“You can feel every single rib on her, she’s not a thin dog, I mean, we’re lucky she’s in such good spirits,” said Davis. 

Other comments have poured in since Sunday from people with the same claims, along with concern from other reputable dog trainers in Albuquerque.

“Dog training currently in the United States is an unregulated industry, and what that means from the perspective of a guardian, is that literally anyone can say ‘I’m a dog trainer’ and start charging you money for it,” said Ellen Schmidt with Quest Companion Dog Training. 

They say there are many red flags to look out for when you’re looking to hire a trainer.

“Trainers need to be certified and need to be pursuing continuing education, and they should be using methods that do minimal harm, limited fear, limited force with the dog. And if they are approaching you with an easy solution that involves scaring or hurting your dog, it’s time to turn away,” said Schmidt. 

Something these families hope Berry does – with dog training.

“It’s not right she needs to be stopped. She needs to be stopped,” said McBride.

“She needs to be stopped. She’s hurt so many dogs and so many people,” said Davis.

The Luv N Care Boarding facility she was operating in went up for sale Friday, the same day Animal Control went in to check the conditions. And, as of Saturday, Duke City Dog Academy is marked as permanently closed.

According to the court system, Berry surrendered Tuesday on the failure to appear warrant out for her. That warrant was in connection to an uncleanliness of property and an intact animal charge from October.

Berry is scheduled to be back in court for that case next month.