In Illinois, the dog training industry is big and booming.
It’s also largely unregulated as WGN Investigates found trainers do not need a license to work with dogs.
To some pet owners, that’s a problem that needs fixing.
Reyna Lujano is one of them. The owner of two pit bulls hired a dog trainer last year to help her pets learn to follow commands.
She says she did her homework, choosing someone with a good social media profile who had worked at a reputable dog training business on the city’s North Side.
So, she was surprised when she picked up her dogs more than two weeks later, to find the animals were allegedly injured.
“They came back with issues,” she says.
Lujano filed complaints with the city and state but found there’s only so much regulators can do.
“It has really led to a big problem in our state and most states,” says Jay Spainhour, a local dog training expert and owner of Chicago-based Tucker Pup’s Pet Resort. “Anybody can call themselves a trainer.”
Back in February, the city of Chicago cited the trainer with two ordinance violations for allegedly failing to provide proper “food, water and shelter” to Lujano’s dogs.
Lujano says the trainer told her the dogs suffered injuries because they fought each other. But she questions why the animals weren’t given immediate attention.
The trainer has denied any wrongdoing. An administrative hearing on his case is still pending.
In the meantime, state lawmakers are debating how to make the industry safer for dogs and their owners.
“In Illinois, we regulate just about every profession,” says state Sen. Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry). “So, it’s a little surprising to find that in this profession…there is no real standards.”
Click here for more information on how to choose a dog trainer.