MYSTIC- There is shock and dismay at dog training facilities in Connecticut over the arrest of a popular trainer, who is facing 29 counts of animal cruelty.
Beatrice Nielsen, 50, was charged after animal control officials removed 21 dogs — one of which was dead — five cats and four birds from her two-bedroom house in Webster, Massachusetts.
Local police say that some animals were emaciated, malnourished and living in dirty kennels that were too small. The department received a call from the Board of Health regarding health and sanitation issues at the home.
Health officials told police that when they arrived there was a foul odor coming from the residence.
Nielsen denied the allegations outside court. She described herself as a “canine specialist” with 30 years of experience, and said the charges are the result of a personal grudge.
"I have helped thousands of dogs to find new homes and helped rehabilitate them. This is an absolute insult," Nielsen told reporters outside court.
Nielsen, also known as Beatrice DeGruttola, has worked as a K-9 rescue specialist for "My Dog's Place," a dog and puppy training facility with locations in Niantic and Mystic.
Since 2003, Beatrice, otherwise known as "Bea," has been certified in three states to train dogs with behavioral issues.
"She has a huge client base and her clients loved her. She works with dogs nobody else in the area will work with, her clients and we all regard her as a great trainer and a good person," Lineweber said.
Marge Lineweber, the owner of My Dog's Place, said she was shocked by Neilsen's arrest.
"We're all just confused at this point," said Lineweber. "It's very shocking and it is not something we can't stand to be connected to."
Lineweber has cut ties with Neilsen after the arrest. Pending the outcome of the investigation, Neilsen will be on leave from the dog training facility, according to Lineweber.
Neilsen was held on $2,500 bail, and is due back in court for a September 17 pre-trial hearing.