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'It cost me my best friend': Former client of Pleasant Hill dog trainer seen in viral video shares experience

Adam Lawrence
Posted at 5:47 PM, Jan 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-16 19:25:01-05

EUDORA, Kan. — A Kansas City-area man claims his dog died in the care of the same trainer seen in a widely circulated video.

Matt Fiala faces three municipal charges, including animal cruelty, after the video emerged showing him mistreating a German Shepherd.

The KSHB 41 I-Team spoke with Adam Lawrence about his experience with Fiala.

Adam Lawrence talks with KSHB 41's Cameron Taylor
Adam Lawrence talks with KSHB 41's Cameron Taylor

“Not doing that research, not trusting my gut — it cost me my best friend,” Adam Lawrence, whose dog was trained by Fiala, said.

In 2022, Adam got a second younger female German Shepherd.

The two dogs, Karma and Clover, kept fighting, so Lawrence looked for a dog trainer.

While Karma went to training for two weeks, Clover would be fixed.

Adam landed on Advanced Canine Training. The I-Team checked and its website no longer works.

“Looked like a good bet; come to find out, I was looking at a different business," Lawrence said. "One in Texas, not this guy."

Despite the businesses having the same name, Lawrence learned the one he researched was not the one he paid.

He requested a refund, but Lawrence said Fiala, who owned the company, told him the training worth $2500 was non-refundable.

Lawrence said Fiala convinced him he was good with German Shepherds.

“So, we let her go to training, and one week later, he called and said she didn’t wake up,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence had plenty of questions about what happened to his healthy German Shepherd. This is what he said Fiala told him over the phone about the 5-year-old dog.

"By Sunday afternoon, she was taking food and water and becoming comfortable with her new situation, and about that point, my brain was doing the math," Lawrence said. "He picked her up on Tuesday morning. Sunday afternoon, that's like five and a half days."

Fiala ended up refunding the money.

He also wrote an email to Lawrence's wife, which the I-Team obtained:

I hope this email finds you well. I know she was truly loved with you all. One of our policies during training is to make sure to treat every dog we have like family. We have trained hundreds of dogs and nothing like this has never once happened before. It is not uncommon at all for dogs to not eat when placed in a new environment even for multiple days, especially already fearful dogs. From the day we got Karma to her last day with us 7 days out she was starting to roam around the yard, often times wanting to stay out there just laying in the sun also taking food/water from us and using the bathroom normally. We saw absolutely no signs she was ill or physically injured. Again the kennel we left is yours to keep as well as our offer still stands to train your dog for free. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Please know you can reach out to me anytime.
Matt A.C.T

One red flag keeps popping up in Adam’s mind is when Fiala picked up Karma.

“Within 30 seconds of him being in the room, she bit him,” Lawrence said.

Then video emerged of another German Shepherd in Fiala’s care. Pleasant Hill police received it in early January and said he abused the dog.

“I know German Shepherds pretty well, and you could tell that dog was terrified," Lawrence said. "Traumatized long before his actions were caught on video."

Pleasant Hill's police chief confirmed he's spoken with Lawrence as part of the investigation into the dog trainer.

Like the chief, Lawrence believes Missouri law needs to change.

“Going through all of this, I wondered why places where we entrust our family members, our dogs, don’t have any inspection, regulation, oversight, there’s nothing like that,” Lawrence said.

He doesn't want Karma to be forgotten, and hopes Fiala never works with dogs again.

“I hope karma comes back to bite him," Lawrence said. "I hope he’s going to get his karma now."

Fiala is expected in city court in March.

The I-Team reached out to him again Tuesday, but as with our other previous attempts to reach via text, email and phone calls, he has not responded.

If you have any information related to this case, I-Team wants to hear from you. Email us at