JONESBORO, Ark. – Rachel Tyrer, owner of the missing lab Ollie, has filed suit against Hunter Nelson, the dog trainer who has repeatedly lied about the whereabouts of her missing companion and others.
“Plaintiff suspects that Defendants tortured Ollie, including infliction of inhumane treatment, resulting in serious physical injury and his inhumane death.”Lawsuit filed Wednesday in Craighead Co. Circuit Court
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Craighead County Circuit Court, Civil Division, also names Hunter’s wife, Abbie Nelson, and their business, 4-Legged Retrievers (The purported organization was not listed on the Secretary of State’s website). The lawsuit asks for damages for the missing dog, for damages over the repeated intentional infliction of emotional distress, for civil action by crime victim, and for punitive damages. A jury trial is requested, as well.
“My heart is in my throat because I’m thinking my dog is in the back of my truck because of Hunter,” Tyrer said. “The whole time, I’m thinking my sweet Ollie has been abused. And leaving the vet, I’m pissed. I’m furious because it’s someone else’s dog.”
In January, after exhuming the body of a dog promised by Nelson to be her missing Ollie, Tyrer learned she had once again been deceived. The deceased dog had no microchip and was not fixed, both of which were the opposite from Ollie. Tyrer still doesn’t know who that dog belonged to. She said it was cremated. However, it was during that time she decided to get an attorney since the case seemed to only be getting worse.
Another missing dog’s owner, Gene Adams, had already hired an attorney and, as we reported here, has filed a suit of his own in Mississippi County. Both Tyrer and Adams hired private investigators to look for answers and shared information with each other.
“Gene Adams had his investigators go out and found another dog on [Hunter’s] property, also black,” Tyrer said. “But looking at it, it did not look like a big ole’ lab like our Ollie. You could barely tell it was a dog because of how badly it was decomposed.”
She had been originally told she would find the remains of her dog buried on site of Hunter’s property. Instead, she found more lies. Private investigators were finding more questions than answers. That’s when Nelson’s story changed again. Ollie was still alive, he now claimed.
“Nothing he was saying was adding up,” Tyrer said. “He keeps saying Slick and Moose are dead and Ollie’s missing. I don’t know if he doesn’t know where Ollie’s at. I don’t know if the dog we dug up that’s super-decomposed is Ollie. I don’t know. I’m at a loss, really. It’s so hard to follow his stories because nothing makes sense.”
Tyrer doubted Hunter’s latest story is true. She said left Ollie in his care on August 13, 2018. Hunter claims the “first or second week of September,” a storm hit his home in Greene County causing the dog to run away. But she never received a call during that time telling her of the bad news. In fact, Hunter scheduled several training sessions as late as October 3 – almost one month after the supposed storm caused the dog to flee.
“If it was me and somebody’s dog ran away, I would call them immediately,” Tyrer said.
NEA Report checked weather records for 2018. No precipitation was recorded in the area where Hunter’s residence was between Sept. 1 and Sept. 20.
She had been fed up for some time but this was when Tyrer let her lawyer take over. Jared Woodard of Stanley | Woodard Law Firm sent Hunter a letter giving him ten days to turn over Ollie and/or his collar. It was a demand for the truth and for closure. Hunter’s family gave Tyrer a collar, claiming it was Ollie’s. It was another lie.
The collar belonged to another woman’s dog who had been trained by Hunter.
“She sent me a photo of it,” Tyrer said.
Few people could have made so many efforts with as much patience as Tyrer has shown Hunter Nelson. Attorney Woodard will be less patient in his efforts, as his pointed Wednesday 35-page filing showed.
The lawsuit shows repeated examples of Hunter “only thinking of himself,” often by repeatedly asking for the matter to be kept off of social media – if ‘only for his wife, Abbie.’
The similar stories from others once it hit social media seem to have been the real worry for the dog trainer.
The civil action could become costly for the disgraced dog trainer. Woodard not only seeks damages for the wrongful conversion of Tyrer’s property, but he is going for attorney’s fees, too. As is his trademark, Woodard provided Ark. Supreme Court case law by which plaintiff’s were awarded attorney’s fees.
In addition, Woodard is pursuing damages for emotional distress. To establish such a claim, the plaintiff must show that 1) the defendant intended to cause distress or knew it would probably happen from his actions, 2) the conduct was extreme/outrageous, 3) the actions of the defendant were the cause of the distress and 4) the emotional distress was so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it. Woodard notes in the filing that the Arkansas Supreme Court has held mental suffering as an actionable claim. From 3 AM texts about the dog dying to lies about veterinarian offices that had never even treated Ollie, Woodard makes a detailed case throughout each step in the chain of events.
Count three of the lawsuit seeks damages for Tyrer as a crime victim. Section 70 of the lawsuit, it states, “Plaintiff suspects that Defendants tortured Ollie, including infliction of inhumane treatment, resulting in serious physical injury and his inhumane death.”
When she spoke to a reporter on Wednesday, Tyrer seemed to have lost hope of a happy ending to her story.
“I’ve had hope for a little while, but…but…just…you know, you would think if somebody had him, they would have come forward,” Tyrer said, holding back emotions. “But I don’t know if they’re scared I’ll make them pay for something or they’ve gotten attached. I’m not going to make them pay for anything. And if they’ve gotten attached, we can talk about it or whatever. Really, I just want to make sure he’s okay. For months now, I thought he was dead. To find him alive would tickle me silly but I’ve kind of already grieved. It’s really just the moral of it. I would love to get him back but if we don’t, put this behind us, move forward, and do something about Hunter.”
Count four makes the case for punitive damages against the defendants for their “reckless disregard of the consequences from which malice may be inferred.”
Unfortunately, the malice isn’t coming only from the family members in the lawsuit. Rachel has received several contact efforts from Hunter’s family, some of which were menacing. One evening, Tyrer was told Hunter’s family had been driving by her house.
Despite this, the mounds of evidence of likely criminal behavior, and the public’s consistent outrage for over three months, law enforcement in NEA have given no indication of their involvement or investigation of the case. NEA Report has specifically asked several high-ranking members in area law enforcement about the case but none have taken the initiative to get involved.
With no help from an apathetic justice system, Tyrer holds on to the last shred of hope for a positive outcome. If she can’t see her Ollie again, she at least hopes to prevent others from enduring the same fate.
“It’s just the fact he can be so disrespectful not to care,” Tyrer said. “He’s just living it up right now, not a care in the world.”