- Washington, USA -
On Wednesday, September 21, 2022, GREGORY PAUL HOUSER JR. (pictured), of Houser's Quality Labs, pleaded not guilty to two counts of animal cruelty and one count of running an unlicensed kennel.
HOUSER is accused of killing several dogs due to his inadequate care and neglect of animals.
In April 2022, KHQ exclusively reported that the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney's Office and the animal shelter SCRAPS launched an investigation into a potential animal neglect case after in August 2021, Houser's Quality Labs was brought to the authorities’ notice following the death of three dogs while in the care of the facility.
KHQ explained: “Each year, thousands of dogs compete in hunt tests in hundreds of clubs across the country. Families put thousands of dollars into a quality trainer the dog will live with for months on end.”
HOUSER is a part of an exclusive Professional Retriever Trainers Association. A trainer who did not want to be identified, told KHQ: “You have to be voted in at a trial in order to have a PRTA membership, and I know that there are many pros, including myself, who would love nothing more than to be recognized by PRTA. Greg is recognized by PRTA, he has accomplishments with his dogs. He is ex-law enforcement. So, all those things stand out. Those are really good things.”
This means that HOUSER’s clients had no reason to doubt his professionalism and trusted their furbabies with him.
Among HOUSER’s clients, are Larry Leidelmeyer, Jerry Vallortigara, and Ben and Evelyn Schallberger who now want justice for their dogs.
Larry Leidelmeyer trusted HOUSER with his dog Andy (picture no. 2), the Schallbergers left with HOUSER their dog named Drake (picture no. 3), and Jerry Vallortigara placed his dog Smoke (picture no. 4) into HOUSER’s care.
HOUSER was based in Dos Palos, California and told his clients that during summer he moves to colder climates to continue training. In August 2021, he told his clients he was heading to Washington where he was running a facility on Medical Lake Road in Spokane.
Andy, Drake, and Smoke along with thirty other dogs then traveled with HOUSER and “that's when red flags started popping up,” reported KHQ.
Mr. Vallortigara said: “Communications started getting a little bit harder” and Mr. Leidelmeyer said: “Things weren't working right. Things were just getting really weird.”
On August 11, 2022, Mr. Schallberger called HOUSER and asked him how Drake was doing and HOUSER told everything was going well. The following day, at 7:00 a.m. HOUSER called Mr. Schallberger and told him: “Hey, Drake's not doing well.” Sadly, Drake passed away on the way to the West Plains Medical Facility. Unfortunately, Ben and Evelyn Schallberger were not able to see Drake before he passed away and the last time they saw him was when they had dropped him off.
Mr. Leidelmeyer also received a call from HOUSER who told him that Andy was sick. He later found out that Andy had been sick for days, but he was never told. Andy was taken to the vet and Mr. Leidelmeyer said: “They told me that he'd have like a 20% chance of making it through the night. And thankfully, he did.” Mr. Leidelmeyer was able to drive up and see his furbaby in his last moment. “Kind of comforted him, brought him some of his favorite toys, and made some noises that gets him pretty hyper and active,” said Mr. Leidelmeyer. He then explained: “I got a phone call from WSU saying Andy is in cardiac arrest. I went back to WSU and they were doing CPR on him I got there.”
As for Smoke, he is still alive but he is different now, said Mr. Vallortigara. He went to pick him up and took him to the vet. “The vet gave him fluids. He was dehydrated. He was underweight,” explained Mr. Vallortigara. Smoke had scars on his stomach and his elbows, his nails were split all the way back down to the pads.
“He's scared of the wind now. So, he's super skittish. I mean, he was the quietest dog ever. He never barked or anything now he's just runs and paces and barks. And there's PTSD or anxiety or something there because he's not the same dog,” further explained Mr. Vallortigara.
KHQ spoke with Andy and Drake’s veterinarian and obtained copies of their necropsy which showed high sodium levels. The vet told KHQ the high sodium levels caused Andy and Drake’s brains to swell, then die.
According to KHQ, in June 2022, SCRAPS sent a report to the prosecutor's office that found there was not sufficient evidence to charge HOUSER with any crimes. After that, the officer handling the case was taken off and someone else took over. The new report included 19 witnesses, 7 victims and had almost 400 pages against the 67 generated by SCRAPS.
Charges came out, and Wednesday was the first time HOUSER was in court since the incident took place.
Mr. Leidelmeyer rightfully told KHQ: “We want to see him lose his ability to own and train dogs forever. We want him to lose his license. We want him to lose his accreditation. I definitely want justice for my dog for Andy, for Drake. And for Rosie. I mean, those three dogs didn't have to die the way they did.”
He flew out to see HOUSER’s arraignment in person on Wednesday. KHQ asked him what he thought about HOUSER pleading not guilty and he answered: “Knowing Greg, no I wasn't surprised, to be honest with you. I was hoping he wouldn't be so stubborn and he would take the plea deal but I guess he wants to go the whole way take it to trial, take his chances that way. If it goes to trial and everything comes out. You have all the docs, the vets, everybody coming out and talking about it, it's pretty much going to be the nail in the coffin for me.”
As reported by KHQ, the judge said HOUSER is not allowed to have dogs in his possession in Washington. It's unclear if that extends to his business in California.
I was not able to find online court records for HOUSER.
According to KHQ, he is due back in court in December 2022, and KREMER 2 reports that HOUSER’s next court date is November 12, 2022.
Either way, I will post update as they become available.
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