‘We were just shocked’: Pet owners recount alleged dog trainer scam, abuse

Dozens of pet owners across the area paid more than a combined $200,000 and put their trust in a dog trainer who they say returned them covered in feces, underweight with rashes, missing fur and in at least one case with filed teeth, according to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office and interviews.

The business, Dayton Dog Trainer, its owner, Jason Thomas Jones, 44, of Huber Heights and two other co-defendants — Jennifer Lynn Long, 39, of Huber Heights, and Tabatha Lee Taverna, 47, of Dayton — are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court on more than 250 charges, including theft, cruelty to companion animals and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

None of the defendants have attorneys on file.

“It was a horrible, horrible experience,” said Randy Reed of Miamisburg, who placed his 6-month-old bernedoodles Emmy and Bailey — who are a cross between a Bernese mountain dog and poodle — in the care of Jones.

After the first two weeks last April of a contracted month of training for $4,000, he said he found his dogs at Jones’ property staked in a field, filthy with a rash and clear weight loss. He did not bring them back for the second two-week session and did not get his money back for the extra weeks.

“It was obvious it was a scam,” Reed said. “I wanted to sue him.”

He took to social media and found a dozen people with similar experiences and brought the information to the Miamisburg Police Department.

Since then, more than 65 dog owners were identified following an investigation by the police department and county prosecutor’s office.

Reed said some of the dog owners already spent thousands to have their dogs trained, and now their dogs need even more help and they may not be able to afford it.

Melissa McClure of Springfield said her French bulldog Tater had an issue with small children and other dogs, and she wanted him to be able to play at a dog park and not worry about his behavior.

Last June the McClures dropped off Tater, who was just a little over a year old, for three weeks at Jones’ Huber Heights property. However, Jones said he needed another two weeks because the training was going slow. They agreed to pay $1,000 more.

“When we dropped off the extra food they would not let us see him, said that would regress all the progress they had made,” she said.

McClure said that was concerning, but they still trusted the process until her dog was returned.

“We were just shocked the moment we saw Tater,” she said. “He was dirty beyond belief, stunk to high heaven, had hair missing all over him — patches on his cheek, on his flank. Skin and bones. You can see all his ribs. You could see his back hip bones. It looks like this man filed my dog’s teeth down.”

Tater required multiple baths and veterinary care, and a caution that he likely will need ongoing dental care for tooth decay.

“I’m convinced if he would have been there another week, he wouldn’t have made it,” she said.

Dale and Mary Beth Kidd of Washington Twp. trusted Jones to train Nico, a 2-year-old European German shepherd.

Dale Kidd, who is 65 and uses a motorized wheelchair, wanted more extensive training so he could walk Nico without him barking at other dogs.

“My dog is my best friend after my wife,” he said.

After one week of training with Jones in November 2023, Nico’s behavior was worse.

“He wasn’t obeying, and he started to growl at people more instead of his usual just barking at people,” Kidd said.

Then, he snapped and nipped at the couple’s 42-year-old niece. It didn’t break her skin, but was disconcerting. When the couple contacted Jones, he convinced the Kidds that Nico had some deeper-seeded issues and that it would take another week costing another $1,000.

“When we got him back the second time, he’s hiding, he’s shaking, even more aggressive,” Kidd said.

And he attacked his niece again, this time causing injuries that required six stitches on her hands.

“If we have company, we put him in his crate. The granddaughters don’t understand and Nico doesn’t understand but we can’t take any chances,” Kidd said.

Reed, McClure and the Kidds all thought they did their homework when it came to contacting Dayton Dog Trainer, which has a website filled with photos of dogs and scenes from Dayton, Oakwood and Beavercreek in addition to information on dog training, the benefits of boarding and training and the various services his business claimed to offer.

Turning over their pets and money to Jones all began with an in-home evaluation.

“We were excited to find someone like him,” McClure said. “He drove a nice car, looked professional, appeared to know what he was talking about.”

Kidd agreed.

“He talked the talk,” he said, “but everything was a lie.”

Jones told the Kidds and others that he served 10 years in the U.S. Army, reached the rank of sergeant, was a member of the military police and trained German shepherds specifically in the military and for police departments.

To verify his service record the U.S. Army’s public affairs office at the Pentagon referred the Dayton Daily News to the National Guard public affairs office, which is still working on the request.

When Jones evaluated Tater, Jones told McClure he was confident he could train him with ease.

“He said he would be no issue, would be a breeze, that he trains police dogs, pit bulls,” she said.

When police arrested Jones Wednesday morning, there were three dogs at his property for training. They appeared to be OK, and their owners were contacted to pick them up, Miamisburg police detective Sgt. Jeff Muncy said.

“I’m very happy that the grand jury came back with the charges,” Kidd said. “The greatest hope is he goes away for as long as possible, whatever the max.”

McClure said she “was thrilled” with the indictment and agreed she wants Jones to be convicted and serve a long prison sentence.

“I just want Jason to never touch another animal,” she said.

Jones, Long and Taverna remain held without bond in the Montgomery County Jail.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone who believes they may have been victimized can contact Muncy at 937-847-6612.

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

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