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Las Vegas dog trainer charged with animal cruelty appears in court

A Las Vegas animal trainer indicted on a felony animal cruelty charge after a dog died under his watch had more than a dozen supporters in court with him Wednesday.

Ricky Davis, 63, has worked with dogs for about 42 years, including more than nine years in Las Vegas, his attorney, Robert Langford, wrote in court briefs.

Davis specializes in advanced obedience training and service animal training.

In early August, a 10-year-old golden retriever named Woody died while Davis and his apprentice were driving the dog and others in a van. Four months later, prosecutors filed charges against Davis.

“Out of the thousands of animals that have been entrusted to him, this is the only one to have died under unknown circumstances,” Langford wrote in court papers, adding that the dog had been provided water and cool shelter under Davis’ watch.

While he awaits an October trial, Davis has been ordered not to have any contact with animals unless an owner or veterinarian is present. He must not transport animals, and he is subject to random home inspection from animal control, although he is allowed to have his own animals at his home.

Woody’s owner, Wendy Span, told a grand jury this month that she had taken two of her dogs to stay with Davis while she attended a funeral in California.

She had hoped Davis could teach Woody to get out of her pool when called.

On Aug. 6, when she was headed back from California, Davis called her and said Woody had collapsed in his van, and he was headed to the vet. He called back 15 minutes later to say the dog had died, she testified.

Later, she said, when she picked up her other dog, Kopitar, he appeared dehydrated, and “his fur looked funny to me.”

A doctor at the Town Center Animal Hospital also testified that the dog had been dead for an hour to six hours before Davis brought Woody to the veterinarian.

At the courthouse on Wednesday, one of Davis’ supporters, Brandi Cassady, said she trusted the trainer who had regularly worked with her dogs — Pepper, Pixie and Bandit — for three years. She called the allegations against Davis “ridiculous.”

“It was really just an unfortunate accident that happened on his watch,” Cassady said. “This is really just a travesty that he’s being faced with this.”

Another supporter, Jennie Hlavacek, said has known Davis for about nine years and she used to work with him through the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society.

“All of us are animal advocates, and we wouldn’t want to see any animal abused, ever,” she said. “And Rick Davis does not abuse animals.”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find @randompoker on Twitter.

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