Dog Training Owner Charged With Animal Cruelty

Affidavit: Surveillance Video Shows Ryan Matthews Beating Dog

The head trainer and owner of Off Leash Dog Training in Loveland was charged Monday with aggravated cruelty to animals, the District Attorney's Office announced.

Ryan Matthews was arrested Saturday and posted a $500 cash bond.

The allegations involve a Belgian Malinois that was reported by a witness to have been severely beaten. Larimer County Humane Society investigators obtained a surveillance video taken inside the kennel that supported allegations of the beating, an arrest affidavit stated.

Investigators also found blood on the carpet and a hole in the wall. A witness said Matthews slammed the dog's muzzled nose into the sheetrock wall, causing the hole.

The witness reported she saw Matthews strike and kick the dog several times and even dog a "body slam." The witness called police on July 17, two days after witnessing the alleged abuse.

Matthews denied that he ever hit or kicked dogs during training, and a veterinarian found no neurological or skeletal abnormalities on the dog, according to the arrest affidavit.

A biography of Ryan on the Off Leash Dog Training website states:

"Ryan served in the US Army for six years and has been training police and working dogs since 2002. He has developed green dogs (untrained working dogs), protection dogs and both narcotic and explosive detection canines. Ryan has worked with the United States Secret Service on Presidential and Vice Presidential protection missions and has been called to serve on numerous bomb threats in support of local police departments. He served as an explosive canine handler in Mosul, Iraq.

"Ryan is a certified Narcotic Dog Handler, a certified Explosive Dog Handler, and a certified Patrol/Attack Dog HandlerÂ…"

Matthews' first court appearance on the felony animal cruelty charge was Monday afternoon, when he was advised of his rights. He did not respond to requests for comment. His attorney, Rachel Michael, replied, "no comment" to questions. She said they would not comment because of the ongoing investigation.

He will be back in court Friday morning.

People who worked next door to Matthews said they could not believe the allegations because he preached a non-violent approach to dog training.

"I was shocked and dismayed that the possibility exists that Ryan would raise a hand to an animal," said his landlord, Ron Busby. "From what I've seen, it would be completely out of character."

Busby said Matthews had recently been under extreme stress after a cancer scare.

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