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Dog trainer sentenced for cruelty to animals

City News Service | 6/8/2018, midnight

An Acton dog trainer pleaded no contest to animal cruelty involving dogs under his care, along with child abuse, and was sentenced to five years in state prison.

Junior Barillas Morales, 28, entered his plea on May 30 to three felony counts of animal cruelty, one felony count of child abuse and one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Co-defendant Natasha Elena Ahmad, 25, pleaded no contest to one felony count of animal cruelty. She was sentenced to six months in jail, 45 days community labor, animal neglect classes, five years of probation and barred from owning or possessing any animals for 10 years.

The two also agreed to make a $10,000 payment toward an as-yet undetermined amount of restitution, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Morales and Ahmad operated a dog training business called Real Deal K- 9's, where neighbors discovered three very thin canines in February 2017, according to testimony presented at an earlier hearing.

A subsequent investigation turned up eight other dogs on the defendants' property -- including one that had to have a leg amputated because of an untreated infection -- and two dead dogs, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Investigators searching the defendants' home in May 2017 found a gun in a sofa where the couple's three young children could find it, according to Deputy District Attorney Amarilla Blondia. Two-dozen dogs were seized during that search, according to court testimony.