Trainer took dog and never returned him, claiming he died and was buried
JONESBORO, Ark. – A four-week trip to obedience school for “Ollie” the dog has turned into a six-month nightmare for owner Rachel Tyrer, who was told her dog was dead but never presented any evidence to confirm it.
She thinks her dog may still be alive. She suspects he could have been sold or traded by the trainer, Hunter Nelson, owner of Four Legged Retrievers. Nelson denies this and claims the dog was bitten by a snake, then died due to Nelson’s self-admitted negligence. Nelson claims he buried the dog. Yet, he refuses to answer questions about the details surrounding the death and told NEA Report he was talking to his attorney before he could say anything more.
“We were living in an apartment complex about a year and a half ago,” Tyrer recalled Monday. “We happened to see this dog walk up on our porch he was soaking wet. Ear infection bladder infection. We found the owner but she didn’t want him anymore and let him out in the rain. She got rid of him.”
Tyrer took Ollie in. Ollie is a lab with a New Newfoundland mix (for the sake of continuity, we shall be writing about Ollie in present tense for the duration of this story until valid evidence is presented of his death. This is not to be seen as a judgment on either party).
The dog’s unique eyes and friendly smile made him an instant hit with Tyrer. He wasn’t in the best of health when she found him, so she invested a lot into vet care for Ollie. Slowly but surely, he gained weight.
“He was fat by the time he went off to Hunter’s,” Tyrer said.
Around August, she thought it was time for him to get trained. He was a really good dog. The only problem she had was what she described as typical puppy behavior.
“He had three owners before and he didn’t know who to listen to,” Tyrer said.
She had heard about Hunter Nelson being a dog trainer with his company, Four Legged Retrievers. She also went to high school with Nelson, with him graduating two years before she did. Initially, she reached out to him for advice but before long, on August 13, she said she gave in and decided Ollie needed obedience training.
“We had a little trouble with him picking Ollie up,” Tyrer said. “He had other clients to meet.”
But after a few attempts, and help from Tyrer’s friend meeting Nelson, Ollie was off to be trained.
She never saw her dog again.
“It was only supposed to last four weeks.”
In the four weeks from mid-August to mid-September, Ollie was expected to be in Facebook posts, photos sent in text messages, and frequently seen by Tyrer. She never saw anything about him.
He kept saying he was going to post things on Facebook and tag me and never did that,” Tyrer said. “I asked for photos but he never sent me any pictures.”
Another red flag came when Nelson would plan a midday training session with Tyrer. Although it was a brief moment for the dog’s owner to get to see her missing companion, Nelson no-showed each of the sessions. She said he missed as many as five times.
Still, she tried to tell herself that he was probably just busy.
Throughout the month, Nelson exchanged text messages with Tyrer – the only updates she would recieve on her dog. But the updates seemed strange.
“He kept telling me Ollie is being really bad,” Tyrer said. “He’s just hard to train. I knew that wasn’t right. I knew that wasn’t correct.”
After four weeks ended, Tyrer didn’t get her dog back. Instead, Nelson said he needed more time. On Monday, Sept. 24, she asked how Ollie was doing through text message.
“Doing great! Almost finished! About a week more and that’s it,” Nelson replied through text.
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, Nelson delayed meeting her claiming he was “stuck waiting on this damn client to get here.” He flaked out that day on calling her back but after she texted him again, he claimed he wanted to test the dog out with his girlfriend’s family that night. Tyrer told Nelson the dog wouldn’t be an inside dog. Nelson didn’t respond.
The excuses continued for the next 20 days. He claimed he had mistaken vet appointments. He claimed he was busy training other dogs. One excuse for a delay was that Nelson wanted to use Ollie for a demo at Westside School with another trainer named Bo Brewer. Brewer’s assistant, Molly Brown, said this was not true.
“I am the assistant trainer of Bo Brewer,” Brown posted in a reply. “I just read the messages included with this post and would like to make it known that we have NEVER HAD ANY ASSOCIATION with Hunter as he claimed in one of the messages.”
On Monday, Oct. 22, at 10:10 AM, Nelson claimed he was in Poplar Bluff working and Ollie, along with another dog named “Dax,” were both bitten by snakes (that weren’t poisonous). Nelson said the vet claimed Ollie would be okay and that Tyrer could pick the dog up the next day. But, of course, the next morning, Nelson had another excuse and said the dog needed another night at the vet’s.
Tyrer called the veterinarian’s office where Ollie was supposedly at. They had no Ollie. Nelson text back, saying “He’s not at Jonesboro pet?” but then later claimed Ollie was actually at “the vet up here,” referring to Corning. He said the vet’s name was “Hart.”
Then, at 3:19 AM the next morning, Wednesday, Oct. 24, Nelson text Tyrer that her dog was dead.
“He has not called me since my dog supposedly died,” Tyrer said. “I tried to call him and he wouldn’t answer. I tried to call him and he would say sorry I’m busy. I’ll talk to you later. He’s so shady. I don’t understand it.”
The Hunter Becomes The Hunted
NEA Report found a cell phone number for Nelson attached to his business page. We called him Monday night, Jan, 7, 2019, and left a message. Eight minutes later, he returned our call but hung up before we could answer. Then, he sent this text message.
“Hey this is Hunter Nelson I’ll contact you tomorrow I can’t speak on situation due to my lawyer attorney not wanting me to. All I can say is it’s not all true Thanks”
Despite his lawyer attorney not wanting him to speak, NEA Report pressed him for answers. We told him we had interviewed Tyrer and it didn’t look good. Nelson answered several texts when we asked him if he was scheming people out of money to buy something such as drugs.
“It’s not a scheme and for sure not drugs idk why you would even say that?,” Nelson said, adding a detail we will get to in a moment. “And the hunting lodge deal isn’t over yet.”
My response was that it seemed like this was the behavior of someone who was addicted. Nelson opened up and sent us an explanation which seemed to differ from his explanation to Tyrer.
“I don’t need money by no means especially for drugs that’s about crazy,” Nelson texted, before adding his explanation. “Truth is dog got bit by a snake passed away I should of taken dog straight to vet like I was supposed to do, but instead I flipped and didn’t, dog did her Buried correctly by all means, but I messed up and told her I did and shouldn’t have. Now if you’d give me time to talk to attorney I’d greatly appreciate it by all means,”
Since nothing stops a journalist from asking questions, I pressed on.
“Hunter, I appreciate you texting me but that’s not the truth,” I said. “Why haven’t you showed her the dog’s grave? Why didn’t you give her the vet’s name?”
He did not respond. I pressed him and asked if he sold her dog
“I did not sell her dog. I told you what happened,” Nelson said in text.
I asked if he was sorry. Curiously, he avoided apologizing for this specific incident.
“By all means I’m always sorry for any sick dog or anything,” Nelson said in text.
Finally, we asked if he felt he could have handled it better.
“By all means,” Nelson said.
Indeed, almost “all means” seem better to handle the supposed death of Ollie than the ones Nelson employed. But until Nelson decides to answer specific questions and stop hiding behind a lawyer, no one but him knows if he is telling the truth.
“He could have sold him the next day,” Tyrer said. “I don’t know where he’s been. I have nothing.”
Tyrer believes her dog is still alive. She said she has since learned of someone who she said “got her dog back after a year of being trained by Hunter Nelson.” Only, the dog wasn’t actually hers. Tyrer claims that dog’s owner later found her dog at a hunting lodge Nelson is connected to.
“That’s why I think maybe he was claimed as dead,” Tyrer said. “He didn’t have any other excuse if he did sell him.”
Generally, NEA Report would not publish a hearsay story unless it came from the original source, even if we granted anonymity. However, when we asked Nelson about the hunting lodge incident, his response was more than curious.
“It’s not a scheme and for sure not drugs idk why you would even say that? And the hunting lodge deal isn’t over yet.” Nelson texted.
While we couldn’t get him to elaborate, his remark confirmed some type of dispute related to this. He also never denied that someone found their dog he trained at a hunting lodge.
There are other stories which have surfaced, too.
For now, Tyrer wants her dog back. She doesn’t believe her dog is dead but if it is, Nelson can prove it with ease. Tyrer hopes he not only will do the right thing, which has been Nelson’s biggest challenge thus far, but she wants to see police intervene, too. Tyrer said Jonesboro police refused to help and said it is a civil matter.
“I don’t want anybody else to suffer through literally my suffering for the past three or four months,” Tyrer said. “It’s been horrible trying to deal with him and get over the loss of a family member and to have someone treat you like a piece of dirt.”