Police are investigating after owners accused a dog trainer of abuse, neglect after injuries and disappearances

Dog owners in Encino, South Gate and Downey accuse DogFit23 of abuse and neglect.

“When is this going to stop? How many more dogs have to be hurt or lost,” Angelia Gaxiola of Encino asked.

In January, Gaxiola took her beloved Keeno, a German Shepherd, to DogFit23 in South Gate for a seven-day training session with owner Eli Hernandez. A few days later, she received the devastating news that Keeno had disappeared.

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Gaxiola’s fiancée Sergio Ornelas said: “He shows no empathy, he gaslights you. He accused Keeno of running off on Keeno.”

FOX 11 has reached out to Hernandez for a comment on Keeno. He told us: “During a training session, he escaped. He started running. He was a very fast dog and I couldn’t keep up with him. We made efforts to find him.

It’s been over 6 months and Keeno is still missing.

DogFit23 has other complaints from customers who say their dogs were harmed while in Hernandez’s care.

“I was shocked to see the injuries he had on his face,” said Jacky Villalobos of South Gate.

Villalobos paid Hernandez $700 for a seven-day training session. She dropped off her dog, a purebred boxer named Koko. When Villalobos came to pick him up, part of the skin on Koko’s face had been ripped off.

“When they removed the muzzle, it looked like his skin was attached to the muzzle because he had lost a lot of skin on his face. If you look at his neck, he has cuts and lacerations on his neck,” said Villalobos.

We asked Hernandez for an explanation about Koko’s injuries. He said, “He (Koko) escaped from the kennel and he got injured.”

Another Downey couple hired Hernandez to train their Malinois named Buck. before the sevenThe one day training session was over, they learned that Buck had been attacked by another dog staying at DogFit23.

Buck ended up in the animal hospital with a leg injury.

“It wasn’t just his leg, it was actually his whole neck, the top of his head and he had lost so much weight,” Buck owner Irma Navarro said.

In his defense, Hernandez said: “I’ve had accidents yes, and like I said I do my best to make sure every dog ​​comes back better than they came. I have dogs that have behavioral problems and they cause accidents.”

When we asked Hernandez where he got his training, he responded by saying, “I have life experience.”

Capt. Darren Arakawa of the South Gate Police Department told FOX 11 that DogFit23 is currently under investigation.

“We will review everything with our animal control services and determine whether or not he is capable of providing the services he is offering and determine if there has been negligence on his part,” he said.

In Keeno’s case, Hernandez was taken to court and ordered to pay $2,000.

In Koko and Buck’s case, Hernandez reimbursed the $700 training fee and he paid Buck’s vet bill.

But for these dog parents, that’s not enough. They want DogFit23 shut down.

“We just don’t want anyone to feel the same way we do on a daily basis,” Gaxiola said.

Hernandez’s attorney, Jorge Ledezma, released the following statement:

“DOGFIT23 is proud of the work it does to train dogs on behalf of dog owners in the community. DOGFIT23 has trained over 400 dogs over the past few years. Less than 0.1% of DOGFIT23 customers have reported incidents or complaints.

Regarding the incident involving Kino, the public should know that Kino ran away during a training session. Unfortunately, all efforts to catch and bring Kino home have failed. Subsequently, the owners of Kino filed a complaint. As part of the lawsuit, Kino’s owners accepted payment of $2,000 from DOGFIT23 as full compensation for their loss several months ago. The fact that Kino’s owners went to the media with his claims after being fully compensated shows that their intentions are driven by irrational animosity.

In another incident, a dog bit another dog. DOGFIT23 covered all veterinary bills related to this incident.
The public is aware that some dogs that come to DOGFIT23 have behavioral issues. According to respected industry standards, a small percentage of incidents are part and parcel of the business.

DOGFIT23 is fully insured and is responsible for any injuries that may occur while the dogs are in their care.”

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