A dog trainer from Tennessee committed suicide just days after being arrested for mistreating the animals he was supposed to be caring for.
Stephen Kinder, owner of Kinder Dog Training, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Thursday, according to the Cleveland Police Department in Tennessee. He shot himself in the parking lot of an American Legion a little after noon, according to local station WTVC. He later died at a hospital.
Just days earlier, Animal Control determined that several dogs in his care were starved and dehydrated, according to WTVC. The dogs had allegedly been confined in crates for weeks. Seven were owned by people who hired Kinder, 42, to train their dogs.
Kinder was facing five counts of animal cruelty.
Multiple complaints had been filed against the dog trainer from pet owners who accusing him of starving and abusing their pets. Abigail Eastburn told the Cleveland Banner that after Kinder watched her dog, a Great Dane puppy named Duncan (pictured), he was in such rough shape he had to be rushed to a veterinarian for treatment.
“We hired Kinder Dog Training to train our 6 mo old Great Dane and dropped off our sweet baby with Steven Kinder,” she wrote on Facebook on Feb. 4. “He is severely dehydrated, emaciated and abused.”
Kinder was arrested last Monday and released on $1,250 bond. In all, 16 dogs were rescued from his care.
Kinder spoke with WTVC before ending his life and told them that he was receiving hateful comments on social media and even death threats.
"I don't know what was going through his mind,” Cleveland Police Sgt. Evie West told WTVC after his death. “I don't know if it was just this specific incident, if it was what was being said, or if it was the collective - you know, something that made him think that this was just not worth it, in order to take his own life.”
Eastburn told Oxygen.com that her dog is recovering.
"He has gained 14 pounds since Sunday and we are blown away at his physical[ recovery]," she said. "Mentally, time will tell but we are just glad he is home and alive!"
As for the death of Kinder, she said she gives her sincerest condolences to his family, adding that his death was
"an unfortunate decision he made and 'not justice for Duncan.'"
Eastburn said she will be pursuing criminal actions against others she said are involved in the animal mistreatment.
[Photos: Cleveland Police Department, Provided by Abigail Eastburn]
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