Jonathan Miano, The Times

CROWN POINT — A 36-year-old dog trainer and breeder was accused Tuesday of allowing more than two dozen dogs to live in unsanitary conditions at a St. John industrial warehouse.

Larry E. Brodanex is charged in Lake Criminal Court with seven counts of torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal and 11 counts of cruelty to animals.

Brodanex, the operator of The Trauma Training Experience, denied the allegations in an interview Wednesday.

“I run my business like an open book,” he said. “I don't hide anything.”

Brodanex has filed a civil lawsuit against the town of St. John seeking the return of his animals and compensatory damages.

Brodanex was charged after the town's animal inspectors and police visited his business Sept. 12 in the 9600 block of Industrial Drive in St. John, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The police noted in the affidavit the smell of urine and feces inside the business was “overbearing” and found 37 dogs in the building, most of which police described as sickly or “horrendously thin,” the affidavit states.

The animals were seized from the location after a veterinarian determined many of the dogs showed signs of trauma, active skin infections or inadequate nutrition.  

Brodanex filed his lawsuit Oct. 6 in Lake Superior Court seeking the animals be returned, according to court records.

The lawsuit alleges police wrongfully seized the animals, as well as a laptop, business documents, a camera and veterinary medicine, during searches on Sept. 13 and Sept. 19.

The town filed a petition Tuesday seeking to have the lawsuit refiled in the U.S. District Court in Hammond.

A hearing on the petition has not yet been scheduled, according to court records.

Brodanex said he has trained dogs for 14 or 15 years. He said he put a deposit down Aug. 8 for the industrial warehouse in St. John and an animal inspector visited the property Aug. 21.

“She said everything was fine,” Brodanex said.

He said the animal inspector visited again Sept. 11, and he admitted the place looked bad.

He said he fed the animals a new dog food the night before, which caused them to have intestinal distress. He said he also had five dogs he obtained from a jailed friend, and those dogs were in poor condition.

But he denied his dogs were mistreated or kept in poor conditions.

“That's a lie,” he said. “That's not what was happening with my dogs, at all.”

Dave Augsten is representing the town of St. John in the lawsuit.

He said the documentation from the police investigation and animal inspection spoke for itself.

An initial court hearing has not been scheduled.

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Courts and social justice reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.