Police are investigating the death of 20 dogs in an Arizona kennel due to the heat after the owners account of what happened appears a bit suspicious. The Green Acres Dog Boarding Facility in Gilbert housed 20 dogs, all which are dead from the intense Arizona heat after the air conditioning kicked off, according CNN News on June 24.
The owners of the kennel were out of town when this happened and the person in charge of keeping an eye on the kennel is the son of Senator Jeff Flake. Austin Flake was minding the kennel for relatives Jesse and Maleisa Hughes when the accident occurred.
The dogs stay in a large air conditioned room at night said the Hughes. One of the dogs chewed the air conditioner cord all the way through, which shut off the unit. The temperatures during the day in Gilbert have been in the triple digits and at night it goes back down to about 80 degrees. 17 of the dogs belonged to people who used the kennel to board their dogs, three of the dogs were the owner's pets.
What sounds suspicious to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is the account of the deaths. While Sheriff Joe Arpaio is calling this an "accident," he at the same time is "casting doubt on the owners' account of how the dogs died."
The air conditioning unit kicked off in the middle of the night, claims Maleisa Hughes. She said that Austin Flake and his wife were sleeping on the other side of the house, which has a separate air conditioning unit than the side of the house where the kennel is located.
When the kennel air conditioning went out, Flake and his wife didn't feel the heat because their side was still working. Hughes said that by the time the Flakes discovered the dogs at 5:30 a.m. the temperature inside the kennel room was over 100 degrees.
The dogs were fine at 11p.m. the night before, reported Hughes. The News Eagle reports that the sheriff doesn't believe the dogs could have died in that short amount of time.
The wire that the dog had gnawed was still sparking, which could have caused a fire, said Hughes. She said that her kids were in the house and that a fire could have been tragic. When the Flakes discovered the dogs suffering from the heat, they turned a hose on and watered down the overheated canines.
They also used ice, Hughes said. The sheriff's office wants to know why they failed to call for emergency help before the dogs died. The owners said the dogs were fine at 11 p.m. the night before, but by 5:30 a.m. the next morning they were dead. This seems suspicious to the sheriff's office.
It was during the night and only six and a half hours had gone by. It is not as if it was during the day with the blazing sun beating down on the structure. Arpaio spoke with a veterinarian who helped in confirming his suspicions. The vet corroborated the sheriff's doubts.
When the sheriff's department arrived at the Hughes' kennel, some of the dogs' owners were there, crying and visibly upset. One of the pets' owners told Arpaio that the Hughes had "mislead them about the number of dogs kept at the kennel."
According to AZ Central, Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio pledges to "take action" if the death of these dogs was due to any criminal neglect or cruelty. The dog deaths at the Gilbert kennel is an on-going investigation today. No charges have been brought against the kennel's owners so far.
Senator Flake released a statement that included:
"I can't imagine the devastating loss these families are experiencing. My heart goes out to the owners who lost their beloved pets."