Dogs, other animals rescued from Dalton home of deceased Cleveland dog trainer
Earlier in the week, police charged Stephen Kinder with several counts of animal cruelty, after some of his customers discovered the dogs they had entrusted into his care for several weeks appeared malnourished and emaciated.
Cleveland Police urged Kinder to turn himself in. But police reported Thursday that Kinder shot himself in the American Legion parking lot in Cleveland around 12:30 Thursday afternoon.
Dalton Police now say that Kinder took his life after officers served a warrant at his home on Mattie Street.
That warrant came after a customer of Kinder's reported to an officer their dog, which had been in Kinder's care, had lost a lot of weight, and was vomiting. Kinder told the officer that the dog had lost weight because it had been exercising more than it was used to. That officer then forwarded the complaint to Cleveland Police, because Kinder's business was based there. That investigation led to Bradley County authorities arresting Stephen Kinder and charging him with four counts of animal cruelty.
Acting on a tip that some of the animals in Kinder's care were at his Dalton home, Dalton police got a search warrant, which they served at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. Police say they found the house in "deplorable condition." There were 16 dogs in the residence, along with two baby goats, two turtles, a snake, and in the back yard there were nine ducks. There was also a dead turtle and also several dead snakes. The animals were malnourished and living in filth, with the dogs all in kennels and many of them covered in their own waste.
While on scene at the Mattie Street residence, Dalton investigators were contacted by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office who reported they’d been contacted by one of Stephen Kinder’s friends who said that Kinder was making suicidal statements. Bradley County asked the DPD to perform a welfare check on Kinder. Dalton investigators on scene were able to make contact with Kinder by phone at approximately 12:10 pm. Police say Kinder denied being suicidal and told a Dalton detective that he was on his way back to Dalton and that he would meet with investigators at his residence. Dalton investigators at the scene were contacted again by Bradley County at approximately 1:30 p.m. and learned that Kinder had apparently killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot.
A representative of the Whitfield County Animal Shelter responded to the Mattie Street scene to assist with rescuing the animals. Workers with the Canine Rescue in Dacula were dispatched to Kinder's Dalton home and rescued several of the animals.
12 dogs of different breeds were taken to Canine Rescue out of a total of 16. Dalton Police confirm to NewsChannel 9 that seven of the rescued dogs were being trained by Kinder.
Like Dalton Police, Carla Brown of Canine Rescue said all of the animals were in bad shape and showed signs of malnutrition - "skin and bones," in Brown's words.
The dogs arrived at the Canine Rescue shelter just before 7 p.m. Thursday, and they're now getting care from veterinarians.
Dalton Police have charged no other people in this case as of Friday morning.
Depend on us to update this story as we get new information.