Brent Ballard said he left his Great Dane in the care of a Lafayette dog trainer in September with the expectation that his pup would return to his Denham Springs home as a service dog. Instead, Gauge came back in October malnourished and in need of immediate veterinary care for a number of injuries including cuts, infections and burns, according to Ballard.
A veterinarian told him the dog was 24 to 48 hours away from death and that Gauge would no longer be able to perform as a service dog as a result of the trauma, Ballard said.
"This is a disgusting and horrible act for anyone to do to innocent animals and families," Ballard wrote in an Oct. 12 Facebook post. "We want to protect other veterans and families from being scammed and their loved ones hurt."
Patrick Darcey is the Lafayette man who allegedly abused Gauge and at least two dozen other dogs through his home dog training business, K9 Kajun Farm.
Darcey, 64, was arrested Tuesday for the second time on a warrant accusing him of animal cruelty. He was arrested in July on the first warrant.
A Lafayette man has been arrested for the second time on a warrant accusing him of animal cruelty.
Now, Darcey is facing up to 38 counts of animal cruelty, along with additional charges related to noise and sanitation violations, according to Katina Richard, a field supervisor for the Lafayette Animal Shelter and Care Center who is overseeing the case.
Ballard's Facebook account of Gauge's alleged abuse is what ultimately reopened the investigation and led to Darcey's Tuesday arrest, according to Richard. Unlike July's arrest warrant, the new one also prohibits Darcey from owning or acquiring animals, which is especially important to Richard and others who've been investigating Darcey for the past six months.
"This is someone who's pretty much taking advantage of veterans. That's one of the things we're looking at in particular with this case," Richard said. "He would take from any and everybody who would give him money."
Darcey's neighbors first reported in April excessive barking and noise coming from a home in the Broadmoor Terrace Subdivision near the intersection of Johnston Street and Ambassador Caffery Parkway.
"We tried to work with him to clean the property," Richard said. "We always try to work with people first instead of just writing someone up."
Normally, things improve after animal control officials visit a home because most problems are the result of someone who has taken in more animals than they can afford to care for, Richard said.
But conditions didn't improve at Darcey's Broadmoor Boulevard home, which is situated in the heart of the neighborhood across from Edgar Martin Middle School.
Neighbors continued to anonymously complain to the animal shelter about the conditions.
"A lot of people were afraid to turn stuff in," Richard said. "They would call and complain, but we'd never get a call back number or address or name. They were very afraid of him."
By late June, neighbors were complaining of the home's smell in addition to the noise, according to Richard.
"We couldn't get a smell by the time we went because we couldn't get close enough to the house without setting him off," Richard said. "We're not armed. We're not police officers."
Neighbors finally filed a nuisance report with the animal shelter, and Richard worked with the Lafayette Police Department to take action. On July 3, Lafayette police arrested Darcey and helped to recover 25 dogs from the home.
Of the 25 dogs, Richard's team at the animal shelter was able to reunite eight of the dogs with their owners, and Darcey's daughter reclaimed one of the dogs.
Authorities legally had to return the rest of the dogs to Darcey after he was released from jail in July, according to Richard.
Darcey claimed 12 of the dogs and surrendered the remaining four to the animal shelter for being "untrainable," Richard said. After receiving veterinary care, all four were adopted.
Ballard's Oct. 12 Facebook post is what reopened the case, according to Richard, who worked with Ballard and a veterinarian to obtain evidence and confirm details about Ballard's account of what happened to Gauge.
"The trainer Patrick Darcey neglected and abused my dog during the first two weeks of training to the point that he almost died," Ballard wrote on Facebook. "I had to plead and beg to get my dog back after Mr. Darcey informed me that he could not train my dog, but he would make excuses of why I couldn't get my dog right away."
With the help of a friend and his wife, Ballard said he was able to recover Gauge from Darcey's home and seek veterinary care for alleged abuse and neglect.
"He had lost lots of weight exposing his bones from lack of nutrition and water," Ballard wrote. "He had multiple lacerations, infections, dehydration, swollen leg muscles, (a) swollen eye, and burns on his paws and body from standing and laying in urine/feces."
On Tuesday, officials arrested Darcey again for animal cruelty and rescued the 12 dogs that were returned to Darcey in July, along with an additional dog and a cat.
Darcey owned 10 of the 13 dogs that were rescued from his home on Tuesday, and another one is his daughter's; the other two dogs belong to people who Richard "would assume" were paying Darcey to train them. The cat is thought to be a stray that Darcey was feeding outside of his home, according to Richard.
Instead of returning to the Broadmoor Boulevard house, the animals will be placed for adoption once cleared by a veterinarian and authorities, Richard said.
The animal cruelty cases against Darcey will likely be combined into a single case, according to Richard, who also said that some of the 38 counts of animal cruelty could be upgraded because of the condition of the dogs that were recovered from Darcey's home.
If convicted, Darcey could face up to a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail, or both, per count of animal cruelty, in addition to 40 hours of community service that cannot be suspended.
Although Gauge will no longer be trained as a service dog, he won't be without a home.
"He will be loved and cared for by my family," Ballard said. "I pray that no other animal or family has to go through what Gauge went through."
Anyone with additional information about Darcey or K9 Kajun Farm is asked to contact Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org.