Amid Ry-Con service dog case, bill to regulate training introduced by Mass. state lawmaker

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — North Carolina-based Ry-Con service dogs is accused of selling untrained dogs to special needs families for thousands of dollars. Now a Massachusetts state lawmaker wants to regulate dog training so this doesn’t happen to anyone else.  

More than 50 families across the U.S. filed complaints against service dog training non-profit “Ry-Con” and its owner, Mark Mathis.

One of the people who purchased an untrained dog lives in Virginia Beach.

We met Rhonda DeCrescentis back in January. She thought she found a way to help her son, who lives with autism, by getting a service dog.  However, she quickly realized that was not going to happen.

“My son was disappointed because the dog is not doing what he was trained to do,” said DeCrescentis.  “Especially when he’s not house broken, he makes a mess in the house. Michael gets upset, he gets angry.”

They’ve kept the dog, named Blue. DeCrescentis paid $14,500 for it. More often than not, it doesn’t help Michael.

“He still gets extremely frustrated, and then when he has a lot of those moments, that dog is not there,” said DeCrescentis. “Sometimes the dog responds, sometimes he doesn’t.”

Blue came from North Carolina-based non-profit Ry-Con, owned by Mark Mathis. The North Carolina Attorney General is investigating Ry-Con.

DeCrescentis says before she bought the dog, she read online that Mathis was “certified.” Problem is, there’s no oversight on what certified really means. 

“On his website, prior to, he said he was certified,” she said. “Come to find out there’s no such thing, it was a lie. It’s one great big lie. You know you looked at other people and they would use the same words: certified, qualified, designated by the state.”

Massachusetts Senator Nick Collins’ bill would require a state board of examiners to license dog trainers.

North Carolina Representaive Pricey Harrison thinks similar regulations should be replicated.

DeCrescentis likes the idea and wishes something similar was already on the books. 

“Why did it take this long? And it shouldn’t have because service dogs just didn’t come about recently,” she said. 

DeCresentis doesn’t think she will ever get her money back. Our sister station in Raleigh tried to speak with Ry-con’s owner, Mark Mathis, but he had no comment.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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