SACRAMENTO — This should have been the end of his first week home from obedience boot camp. Instead, his family has given up hope that Bronx the puppy will ever come home again.
They’ve ended their search after their Sacramento trainer said their pure-bred American Staffordshire terrier was stolen out of his car.
It’s a story they no longer believe and now they plan to sue.
It’s also a story that’s got other dog trainers in town talking.
“I have a kennel on the inside. I have a dish that snaps in that has water in it, ” said Kyrana
A kennel may seem like an obvious thing for a trainer’s car, but 20-year-veteran Kyrana Michaelson says the lack of one being used by the trainer tied to the disappearance of 5-month-old Bronx is one thing that’s stood out to her and trainers around the region she’s been talking to since Bronx’s story went viral.
“We usually do not leave dogs unattended in the car,” she said.
Bronx from San Bruno was in the care of his Sacramento trainer last Sunday when that trainer says he left him loose inside his car at Howe Community Park so he could work with another dog.
The trainer claims that two men who’d been smoking pot in the park reached in to a car he’d left unlocked – so he could keep the air conditioning running – stole Bronx and then took off in their car.
According to Michaelson, most trainers go to great lengths to secure the four-legged loves their clients have entrusted them with.
“Some of us are blessed to have alarms on our car… some even have camera systems that are set up in the car. there can also be thermostats that can sent an alert to you car if the temperature has changed.”
She keeps a battery-operated fan in the back of her truck at the ready to add to the air conditioning if necessary.
“I can’t explain it…lost for words. he’s part of the family,” said Bronx’ devastated owner Patrick Tomas said to FOX40 when he first spoke with us on Wednesday and his search was still active.
About the trainer?
“I trusted him. I don’t know. I’m looking back at what could I have done differently,” said Tomas.
Originally Tomas protected the identity of the man who was training his dog, but now as he plans legal action he’s identifying Kevin Salem as the hired trainer who eventually left him tearful cell messages about the supposed theft of Bronx.
The Fulton-El Camino Park District police are investigating and though they say Salem has changed details in the story he’s given them several times, they’ve found no violation of criminal law at this time – just civil.
Salem has been reported to Sacramento County multiple times for running an illegal kennel at his home.
Animal control officers visited there this week, but found nothing.
For families placing their trust in a trainer, Michaelson suggests asking if they use a clip-on GPS tracker and app like the one she uses with clients and her own fur baby Kola.
“The gps is nice because if for some reason Kola got away from me at any point in time I would be able to pull out my cell phone….it will tell me where he is in proximity to me,” she said.
“Even though it’s never happened before having a dog get away, I know it could happen and I want to have as much safety as possible.”
Trainer Kevin Salem hasn’t wanted to go on camera this week, but he texted FOX40 that he’s been in the business 24 years and maintains that Bronx was stolen.
He’s paid the owners $3,000 for the cost of the puppy, the cost of his boot camp plus an extra $900.
Since there’s no federal or state licensing procedure for trainers, anyone can wake up tomorrow, say they’re a dog trainer and start taking clients.
There are two training schools that are well-known throughout the world – Karen Pryor Academy and Jean Donaldson’s Academy for Dog Trainers.
You can look for those schools in a trainer’s educational background.
Organizations to be affiliated with would be: