Las Vegas, Nev. - Surveillance video has been released by authorities which depicts a pet store owner, Gloria Lee, 35, and her accomplice, Kirk Bills, 27, intentionally setting the Prince and Princess Puppies and Boutique pet store on fire at around 12:40 a.m. on Jan. 27. There were 27 puppies trapped in their cages against one side of the wall when the store was set ablaze. All of their lives were spared, thanks to the water sprinkler system that was triggered by the fire. Source
According to CBS 12 News, the video shows Lee enter the store. Two minutes later, she lets Bills inside the back door. The fire begins in the back room. Bills is then seen "dousing the shelves with what looks like lighter fluid." Some type of accelerant is also being strategically poured in the main store, including in front of the cases in which the puppies were being crated. During this time, Lee can be seen gathering paperwork in the office.
A fire erupts a few minutes later, which causes the puppies to start "moving away from the intense heat...." The water sprinkler system that was set off by the fire not only saved all 27 puppies, but it also saved valuable evidence - the cameras and videos. The videos are crucial pieces of evidence and will be quite compelling against the two defendants.
According to Las Vegas Sun, Lee, who is charged with first-degree arson, conspiracy to commit arson, 27 counts of attempted animal cruelty, conspiracy to commit burglary and burglary - appeared in court on Feb. 5 for a bail hearing, which the judge set at $310,000. Bills faces the same charges. He fled to Crown Point, Ind., but was apprehended and extradited to Las Vegas.
Animal rights activists are outraged by this callous act perpetrated with total disregard for the welfare of the puppies, and rightfully so. Puppy and animal mills are now generally viewed by the general public as greedy and selfish operations. Pet stores that sell companions animals are often similarly vilified because they support puppy and animal mills by purchasing mill animals at dirt cheap prices and selling them at highly inflated prices, providing them with quite a hefty profit margin. Puppy and animal mills view the animals they "produce" as mere chattel, put on earth to allow humans to make a lot of money.
Although not yet convicted, if Lee is found guilty of the crimes of which she is being charged, it only solidifies in the public's mind - and the animal-loving public in particular - that pet stores that sell companions animals purchased from animal mills are driven purely by profit. To animal lovers, these pet stores are in the business of selling lives for profit, and that is wrong on so many levels. That profit motive puts living sentient beings at serious risk. Their "products" simply don't matter, as evidenced by the callous setting ablaze of a pet store within which 27 helpless puppies were trapped in their cages.
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