Editor’s Note: We will be discussing this topic tomorrow night on the Live Show at 9 PM. Click here to subscribe to our YouTube channel. All parties mentioned in this blog are welcome to come on and share their side of the story.
This is Tyler Falconer, a Burlington Firefighter and owner of Falco K9 in South Boston.
Falco K9 offers training and/or boarding for dogs. Recently a woman named Rhiannon made a Facebook post that got a lot of attention, alleging that her dog had last 20 pounds over 3-4 weeks in their care. Her dog Luna was sent home early after catching kennel cough at the facility. They offered to drive two hours to deliver the dog to her immediately because they wanted Luna out of there as soon as possible, and gave her a full refund. Alarmed, Rhiannon began to research the company more and came across multiple similar reviews. She alleged that Falco deletes negative reviews and tries to threaten those who do.
One of the things that was discovered was a 2020 lawsuit filed by Falconer’s ex-girlfriend (a Burlington teacher) in Suffolk Superior Court. She alleged that he recorded himself having sex with her without her consent, then distributed that video to several firefighters. Multiple firefighters confided in her that they had been sent the video.
The teacher claimed that Falconer told her that “I don’t need this drama, I have a f***ing dead dog in my kennel and am not dealing with this,” after being asked about distributing the video.
The lawsuit was settled in April of 2022 with some sort of financial agreement (she initially sued him for $1.5 million), but neither party can clarify due to the NDA they both signed. One of the firefighters he distributed the video to commented on a 2017 Facebook post he made.
Rhiannon also found by researching her that a number of other former clients had similar complaints, which led to an investigation by the ARL and MSPAC in 2021. The online reviews are as bad as it gets. Common complaints include:
- Locking dogs in cages for hours on end
- Neglecting dogs that ended up getting sick
- Dogs sitting in their own feces for hours
- Lots of incidents of kennel cough
- Dogs coming home traumatized with completely different and timid behavior
- Car crashes with dogs in a truck that were never reported to owners
- Lack of communication with customers about training
- Unprofessional behavior from staff members
- Deleting of negative reviews
- Dogs coming home after losing significant weight and not eating food
- Falco calling customers liars underneath their reviews
- Allegations that negative reviews were being suppressed on Southie Facebook pages
I spoke to Tyler today and asked him about the reviews. If there were one or two negative reviews you might be able to ignore them. But there are dozens of people alleging very similar things, and many are claiming that their reviews were flagged by Falco and removed. In particular a post from a woman named Hayley Richards alleged some disturbing things about what her two dogs went through there. Tyler responded to the post, essentially saying that she was lying, and he claimed that she previously said great things about her experience.
Falco flagged the post to Google and it was removed, prompting her to make another negative review.
When I asked Tyler about that he admitted that he did flag the review and it was removed. I told him that many would find it hard to believe that someone had a positive experience with him, then out of nowhere decided to post a false negative review, and that flagging reviews from customers was evidence that he was trying to hide her experience from the public. He didn’t disagree, but said that her 2021 review was a result of a viral review made by another unhappy customer named Margie Ruggieri.
In 2021 Margie Ruggieri made a Facebook post that was shared hundreds of times, detailing her 5 month old Great Dane puppy Gulliver’s experience at Falco K9. According to her Gulliver lost a significant amount of weight while training there, developed really bad diarrhea, became dehydrated, had blood in his rectum, a bacterial infection from open sores, and fecal matters in his ears. The testing showed that he had helicobacter as a result of transmission of fecal matter and drinking infected water. The vet bills were $8K. Tyler Falconer himself would not speak to her until her online review started getting negative attention, at which point he told her to remove it.
There are no cameras for customers to watch what is happening to their dogs at Falco, so they usually suggest that the issues dogs are having after leaving the facility have nothing to do with what happened at Falco. But as a result of her post an investigation was launched by the MSPCA and ARL.
Margie’s post prompted dozens of other customers to come forward with similar complaints. Falconer claims that the vast majority of negative reviews he has received are not legitimate, and are a direct result of Margie’s post, which apparently motivated people to make up complete lies that mirrored all the other complaints.
Another woman came forward about a complaint she had made after her dog Sawyer came back significantly malnourished.
Falconer responded by taking no responsibility, claiming that the dog wasn’t eating much there because it was stressed, and that Sawyer was already skinny when he arrived.
This is a theme – nothing is ever the fault of Falco K9, and good luck proving that it is.
When I spoke with Tyler about this he said the customer was lying about the weight of the dog, which he says he confirmed by speaking with the dog’s vet. I asked him for the name of the vet but he would not disclose that to me so that I could confirm it myself.
Another customer, who happened to be a Boston firefighter, also came forward as a result of Margie’s post, alleging that his dog died at Falco in August of 2019. This is the dog referenced in the teacher’s lawsuit against him for filming sex with her without her consent. I asked Tyler about this allegation and he claims that he and the owner of the dead dog are still friendly today, and that the owner apologized to him for hurting his reputation. Messages the firefighter sent in 2021 suggest otherwise.
When I asked Tyler if the dogs were kept in the basement without a window or AC he said that there wasn’t any windows, but that it was air conditioned.
The ARL investigation ultimately led nowhere, since it was impossible to prove how these dogs were getting sick. Sgt. Parlon investigated Gulliver, and did not speak with the dozens of other people alleging similar things. Many were too afraid to come forward because they feared retribution form Falconer. Afterwards Falconer’s attorney sent Margie a threatening cease and desist letter, demanding that she stop posting negative things about Falco K9. The attorney made it seem like she was a vengeful liar seeking to destroy this business for unknown reasons.Cease-and-Decisit-Letter-to-Margorie-Ruggieri (1)
It is noteworthy to point out that one of Falconer’s messages to her contained in the cease and desist letter indicated that he paid her vet bill.
But why would he pay the vet vill if his company wasn’t at fault?
It should also be pointed out that Rhiannon shared Margie’s negative 2021 post, but still hired him 2 years later.
When I asked her why she would hire someone after sharing something horrifically negative about them she said that she shares things on Facebook a lot and didn’t recall the name when she hired them two years later.
It was a quick Facebook share almost 2 years ago amongst a million other things I’ve shared since then. I didn’t remember sharing a post about any training place let alone him specifically. At that point in time sending her for training or remembering names of places for that wasn’t really on our radar. Obviously stupid on my end but it never occurred to me to search through my old posts in case I’d ever shared something about a trainer before we started looking for one.
When I spoke with Tyler he claimed that Luna did not lose any weight at his facility and was skinny when the dog was first dropped off. He claims that the images she posted of a heavier looking Luna are much older than it was before. But they sent her this video of Luna from their facility in January, in which Luna is clearly not malnourished like she was when they got rid of her in mid February.
After she gave Falco a negative review on Facebook he responded by claiming that Luna was never put in a crate (which could easily be proven untrue if he installed cameras), and that the dog was fed properly before the returned Luna to her early with a full refund.
This was in direct contrast to her claim that Falco was not in touch with her regarding the dog. He admitted that they never spoke with her because they called the wrong phone number, while admitting that they violated their own protocol by not contacting her for over a week. He blamed her for changing her number, which she never did.
Trainers she dealt with said that Luna never missed a meal. They blamed the weight loss on stress.
This is interesting because Tyler is on record with me denying any sort of weight loss. But here they are scrambling to come up with alternative excuses for how this could have happened. And if Falco wasn’t the cause of the weight loss then why did they offer her a full refund?
Others began to reach out to Rhiannon after her post, alleging that Tyler has police connections, which is the reason he is able to operate like this.
Tyler told me that he does not train police K9’s, nor does he have influence with police.
A woman named Jessica Cassidy has also been vocal in shutting down Falco K9. She hired them in 2020 for her dog Desmond, and although he did not suffer like other dogs did, she described Falco as dysfunctional:
Desmond never liked going to Falco K9. It became more clear that he began to HATE it when the bus would arrive to pick him up. He would panic and hide under my couch or deadweight me so I couldn’t bring him down the stairs. Every other day I would be asked what program Desmond was arriving for… like, how do you not know who your clients are? Why don’t you have a list if you cant remember who goes where? They would bring him downstairs where the dogs “chilled” while in between training sessions. I asked to see this space at one point in time but they said it was being cleaned so it wasn’t a good time. I didn’t think anything of it at the time – but now I know better
The two week program was very underwhelming in terms of progress and communication. I was always promised updates which I sometimes received – and only if I texted Luc first. At first, they sent out a “report card” at the end of each day to let me know how he did and what he learned. Then, after a few days I received report cards for the wrong golden retriever – and then I stopped getting any update all together.
After he completed the two weeks, I was supposed to have a follow up with Luc to see everything he learned and have him teach me ways to keep it up. I arrived pretty excited to see what he was up to because he always came home (absolutely reeking of feces and urine – thought that was normal for a dog daycare) exhausted and just went straight under the couch not wanting to interact. On his last day (when I had a planned that follow-up session), Desmond came trotting up the stairs in a CHOKE COLLAR. Luc wasn’t there… he never told me he had to cancel. I was so angry x2 I basically said “wtf is he doing in a choke collar?” and the woman said she must have “grabbed the wrong leash” – but that just wasn’t the case. He had the leash; they just put him in a choke collar without ever telling me.
Since then she has been a whistle blower, posting many times about other people’s experiences.
Tyler has hired many family members, including his nephew Jake Walthall. This is a video Jake posted to Snapchat showing a clearly scared dog urinating on the floor as they laugh.
I also spoke with four former employees of Falco K9, three of whom provided information for the 2021 MSPCA investigation that Margie prompted with her post.
The time I spent volunteering told me everything I needed to know about FalcoK9 – Tyler got too big too quickly and was under-staffed (in my opinion as an attempt to keep overhead costs at bay). I would clean out kennels saturated in urine & feces because the kennel hands didn’t pay enough attention. Similarly, due to the kennel hand’s lack of attention and the training staff’s busy schedules, there were numerous times when I took it upon myself to relocate dogs to new crates because they were shoved into a space that was too small for them. I’m talking an adult standard Bernedoodle crammed into a 36” crate meant for a dog similar in size to a Vizsla — absolutely impossible for the dog to stand. A stupid and avoidable situation!
There were instances where I was the person who pointed out a dog’s kennel cough symptoms – a dog that was losing weight from being stressed out, who was having such a significant dry heaving quality to her cough that her diaphragm was noticeably contracting & she had a runny nose. I sanitized her crate and relocated her to a secluded room away from the general population of dogs and was told that they’d call Tyler to let him know the next day and get an OK to bring her to a vet.
Another time I diagnosed a dog with an ear infection. I went to take him out of his crate and saw his ear was crusty, I thought it was fecal matter dried on his ear which is disgusting in itself. I was wrong. His ear was completely inflamed and swollen – what I had seen was dried ear wax and infection seeping from his ear. I was beside myself. I informed the trainers who were there and no one had a sense of urgency! They didn’t even have an over-the-counter ear cleanser to use for him. My mind was absolutely blown.
The dogs sleep with the lights on in wire cages downstairs. How is that fair? They use fans to air out the smell of feces and urine from dogs messing their kennels. It’s true, some dogs are so shell-shocked that they don’t eat. A barking dog in a kennel doesn’t need to be squirt in the face with a water bottle or screamed at from afar. Each dog should be considered for who they are as an individual and a plan of action should be curated for them specifically. In my opinion, if you don’t have time to put in that level of care, then don’t take on more than you can handle.
A person shouldn’t have to break a dog down to effectively train them – that is not behavior modification, behavior suppression, or obedience training – that is unfair treatment of another living breathing species.
- Too many dogs, going from 15 day school dogs to 65 without any additional trainers being hired
- All about profit
- Dogs having seizures when not given prescribed seizure medication
- Dogs sitting in crates for hours in their own feces
- Giving sick dogs “Falco” remedies instead of taking them to the vet
- A van accident led to dogs being thrown around and crates broken, traumatizing many of them. Employees claim that Tyler told them to “figure it out,” and instructed employees not to tell the owners about the crash. Tyler’s mother Joan reportedly told concerned employees “are you going to pay the vet bills” when they complained.
- Complete and total disorganization
- Dogs were hardly worked if they were unlikable, particularly Great Danes, and only taught to sit and stay
- Dogs constantly reeking of urine and poop
- Dogs not being fed
- Dogs being left with dangerous prong collars on
- Outright abuse at the hands of Jake Walthall, who was seen swinging dogs by their necks and had no formal training
- Employees were told to get a few minutes of training on video to send to clients before putting them back in their crates for hours
One of the former employees who left in 2021 told us that due to understaffing they failed to keep dogs apart, and that she saw two dogs having sex. The female became pregnant and Falco denied that it happened at their facility. Due to a lack of cameras or oversight it was impossible to prove that it didn’t. When I asked Tyler about this he dismissed all of them as bitter ex-employees.
Tyler married WCVB reporter Katie Thompson in 2021 and they have a child together.
Katie has previously messaged the employer of an upset client named Isabella, who Tyler claims was harassing them in an attempt to get the client fired.
Katie was easily identifiable as a WCVB reporter on her IG account, and this message could be perceived as a threat to weaponize the station against a business for employing someone who spoke out against her husband’s company.
But Isabella never contacted Katie. She left a comment on WCVB’s Instagram page about her involvement with Falco K9. Isabella used a makeup account to leave the comment, and Katie wrongly believed it was the Burlington teacher who her husband recorded himself having sex with, without the woman’s knowledge. Katie then attempted to weaponize the courts against this teacher by applying for an order against her, in order to prevent her from speaking out.
Katie Thompson Falconer also messaged one of the former employees who cooperated with the investigation into Falco K9 in 2021, hiding behind unborn baby and trying to get the former employee to feel bad for her.
Most insanely, on Katie’s wedding day she also called Margie, using it as sympathy to get Margie to take down her negative reviews about Falco because it was ruining her wedding day. Why she was concerned about online Facebook business reviews on such a day, or reading them at all, is beyond me. Katie repeatedly asked Margie to respect her on her big day by ending her online advocacy for her dog. If there was audio that I heard of this I would not be able to share it because Massachusetts is a two party consent state. But if there was audio, and I did hear it, then it would show Margie warning Katie not to marry Tyler, citing the non-consensual sex video he made of the teacher, as well as other allegations women had made against him.
I asked Tyler if any of these allegations were true and he said that the only client he’s ever had sex with is his wife.
The Boston Globe and other media outlets have reached out to some of the people I spoke with this week but none have written about it.
There are literally dozens of specific negative reviews indicating neglect and abuse of dogs at Falco K9. Either all of these people are being led by Margie to make these stories up in order to harm Tyler’s business, or they are true. If readers think it’s the latter then we urge you to contact elected leaders and/or law enforcement to get them to act.