MN fitness influencer accused of bad dog breeding

A high-profile fitness personality is facing accusations of neglect and abuse as a dog breeder.

An avalanche of opposition popped up when Ali Holman and her husband asked the city of Dayton to change its rules so they could legally operate their French bulldog breeding business.

You may recognize the name Ali Holman. She was a fitness contributor on FOX 9 a decade ago and currently is on other local TV stations. She didn’t want to be on TV on Wednesday, but we did talk to her for quite a while as she tried to explain the complaints as a harassment campaign against her.

But they’re more than just complaints. They’re lawsuits and an active criminal investigation. Disturbing videos and photos of sick and dying French bulldogs add up quickly when customers of Bold North Frenchies come together.

"I know personally of at least 12 or 13," said Marianne Shumaker.

Several of them reached out to Shumaker's animal cruelty watchdog group, Animal Folks, earlier this year.

"The stories are not just, you know, I didn't get what I paid for their stories of people who receive puppies in horrible conditions, very sick," Shumaker said. "Sometimes they die within days of these consumers purchasing these puppies."

Ali and Mark Holman have recently run the business out of their home in Dayton, and they’ve sold French bulldogs to people across the country.

Rachel Armstrong came to Dayton from Colorado this month to let the city’s planning commission know the puppy she got needed emergency care almost immediately when she got it home.

"It is my opinion, they couldn't care less if my puppy lived or died," she said of the Holmans.

Armstrong is one of three people with active lawsuits against the Holmans in Minnesota.

Video a neighbor took of Ali Holman in her yard with her dogs. Lawsuits have been filed against Holman, alleging abuse and neglect. 

Ali Holman told me her business gets clean bills of health from inspectors, but she couldn’t share those records on Wednesday. She did share photos of some of the dog areas in their home and said she loves all the animals and treats them like babies.

But a video from a former neighbor in Brooklyn Park shows a lot tougher treatment.

Her neighbor called it abuse.

"You’re going to hear several accounts of neglect, abuse," former customer Tracy Roach told the planning commission.

Holman told us the long list of complaints against her business really emanates from one woman in Massachusetts, Jen D’Errico. She accused D’Errico of harassment and filed a defamation lawsuit against her in May.

Three months earlier, a Massachusetts court awarded D’Errico a $48,000 judgment against the Holmans, which they are now trying to vacate.

D’Errico also warned the Dayton planning commission not to legalize the Holmans’ breeding operation.

"I thank Ali for connecting all us victims," she said after describing her case to planners.

And after the planning commission heard from nine people, with more in the wings, the Holmans backed off.

"Just noticed in an email from the applicants that they are withdrawing their application," said a planning commissioner, prompting applause and cheers from the crowd.

The planning commission moved on, but Dayton’s police chief told FOX 9 they have an active criminal investigation into the Holmans breeding operation. And the team at Animal Folks is keeping an eye on it, too.

"If she is involved in animal cruelty, she needs to be shut down," Shumaker said.

Ali also posted to Facebook after her conversations with a FOX 9 reporter.

She mentioned fake pages bashing her and said she’ll continue loving dogs and bringing joy to families.

A lot of her customers tell us they got more grief than joy.