A South Florida couple has a bone to pick with a dog training business after, they say, their pet was mistreated during its stay, so they took this canine clash to court. 7’s Karen Hensel investigates.

Like many dogs, 3-year-old Nyx enjoys playing fetch.

Tommy Johnson: “She always wants play, always has the ball. She’s a sweetheart.”

She is also a big German shepherd who started to bark during walks, so Tommy Johnson and his girlfriend wanted to get Nyx trained.

Tommy Johnson: “I didn’t want people to get scared or something like that.”

They signed up with Shultz K9 Enforcement here in Oakland Park enrolling Nyx in a six and a half week program for obedience, and later added service dog training. But what started with anticipation in January, ended with frustration in February.

Tommy Johnson: “It was definitely jarring. That’s the world I’d use.”

The couple supplied Nyx’s dog food.

A month into the boarding, they texted to see if the facility needed more, but they were assured “Nyx is good on food.”

Since they knew how much their dog ate, they became concerned she was not being fed enough.

Tommy Johnson: “What we realized that, you know, the math on food wasn’t adding up. We decided, ‘Hey, we need to go the next morning and get her.'”

That turned out to be easier said than done.

The day the couple arrived to pick up Nyx, they said staff would not release the dog, so they called police.

Karen Hensel: “So you had to call the police to have your own dog returned to you after paying $8,000?”

Tommy Johnson: “Yes, that’s correct.”

Inside, things got heated between the couple and business owner Fritz Monfiston, Jr., who goes by Fritz Shultz, with Nyx chained in the background barking.

Tommy Johnson: “He was like, ‘does this look like an unhealthy dog to you?'”

They were eventually allowed to take their dog.

Tommy Johnson: “Her hip bones were very able to be felt, and like all of her ribs. It was heartbreaking. Immediately we knew she had lost weight, and it was just a matter of how much.”

An immediate trip to the vet showed Nyx had lost 13 pounds, what the doctor called significant weight loss in five weeks.

Tommy Johnson: “The vet said that was deeply concerning, that’s a dangerous rate of weight lost. Yeah, we’re angry.”

Angry and now suing Shultz K9 Enforcement believing an electronic collar was used “indicating that Nyx was improperly shocked and abused” and “shockingly malnourished and dirty.”

A different trainer later evaluated Nyx, finding she “was not properly trained in even the basic obedience.”

Tommy Johnson: “It’s definitely scary. It’s frustrating.”

In a statement to 7 Investigates, the trainer’s attorney said, “Neither he nor the Shultz team would do anything to hurt any animals or their owners,” adding all dogs in their care “are properly trained and properly cared for,” and they “deny all the allegations made” by the couple.

But others have also complained about the facility.

One woman filed this complaint with the state saying she paid $2,500 and got her puppy back “totally untrained.”

Online reviews are mixed.

One calling Shultz “the best dog trainer in South Florida.” Another claiming his dog “lost 20% of his body weight.”

Police Sgt. Rafael Florencio is a dog trainer and K9 supervisor for a South Florida police department.

While he cannot comment specifically about Nyx, he says this about an otherwise healthy dog losing 13 pounds.

Sgt. Rafael Florencio: “A healthy dog should not be losing that much weight throughout training.”

Florencio said when choosing a trainer, to do your homework and remember this:

Sgt. Rafael Florencio: “When we first start day one with training, one of the biggest things that I tell my clients is, I point out the tail wag, and I say, ‘You see this dog’s tail wagging? This is what I never want to lose. I never want to lose the happiness of this dog.'”

Karen Hensel, 7News.

Earlier Thursday, 7News learned the two sides have now reached a settlement to resolve the lawsuit – but the details are confidential.


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