A dog trainer, accused of boarding but not returning animals sent to her for training, is facing charges in both California and Massachusetts after the disappearance of one dog and the death of another.
“She’s a criminal”
Josephine Ragland faces from Connecticut is being charged by police in North Reading, a town north of Boston. Ragland also faces charges for carrying out a scam in which she advertised for dog training through the popular website Thumbtack, while never intending to offer services.
Scott, a 7-year-old German Shepherd, vanished in January of this year after spending two weeks in Ragland’s care. Carolina Bruchilari, the dog’s owner, entrusted the trainer with her German Shepherd to help him get over anxious habits stemming from a move from Brazil. Earlier this year, Bruchilari filed a report with the Palo Alto Police. She claimed Ragland returned a different German Shepherd, still wearing Scott’s collar. While Ragland did not face charges at the time, the investigation was reported earlier this year.
“Instead of bringing back Scott, she brought back another dog. My son told us that the dog was not our Scott,” Bruchilari told CBS 7. “Scott disappeared, and we have never seen him again.” She added, “She’s a criminal. She’s a criminal.”
Another mysterious dog disappearance sparks investigation
After the incident, Ragland’s California profile was removed from Thumbtack. According to Massachusetts police, Ragland returned to her parents’ Connecticut house at some point this year. She started marketing her dog training services under a new Thumbtack profile, “Wagging Good” after changing her name to “Lily”.
Bart Hanson, a resident of Massachusetts, got in touch with the Investigative Unit of NBC Bay Area, to report an incident similar to that of Bruchilari. He told reporters he hired “Lily” to train Charlie, his French Bulldog, after becoming concerned about the dog’s behavior around his toddler. The dog was supposed to stay with “Lily” for a few weeks. Charlie, however, was not given back to his owners.
Hanson stated the dog trainer informed him that her car had broken down on the side of the road. Later, Charlie had vanished from the backseat. Hanson claimed the trainer texted, “I don’t know if he jumped out of the car or somebody took him, but he’s gone.”
The dog’s body was found later in the woods near a Connecticut highway. A necropsy revealed the dog was emaciated, without food in his stomach, and likely died from heat stroke, according to authorities.
Dog trainer faces felony charges
When North Reading police reached out to the Palo Alto Police Department, they discovered that officers in the Bay Area had already interviewed 18 of Ragland’s customers. They similarly uncovered patterns of suspected abuse and neglect. The Investigative Unit had conducted interviews with at least eight of these clients.
Ragland pleaded not guilty in Massachusetts to two felonies: theft over $1,200 by false pretense and deceiving police. In California, nine months after Scott went missing, the district attorney in Santa Clara County charged Ragland with two felonies. Charges include theft of a dog and possession of personal property worth more than $950.
In the Massachusetts case, Ragland has been released on bail pending her trial. A judge, however, ordered her to surrender her passport, stay away from animals other than her own, and refrain from making any animal-related social media posts. In California, the Palo Alto Police requested a warrant for her arrest.