Imagine that you are on vacation. You left your dog at a kennel because he doesn’t travel well or the hotel doesn’t accept pets. You checked the kennel out, it looked good so you left your family’s pet there. Then, one night, you get a call from the kennel owner: “Your dog ran away.”
That was the scenario for several Gilbert, AZ families who had left their dogs at the Green Acre boarding home run by Todd Hughes and his family. On Friday night, they received phone calls telling them that their dogs had broken loose and run away. Some families came home and started a search for their dogs but had no luck. On Saturday afternoon one pet owner discovered why. The dogs hadn’t run away. They were dead.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office had discovered 17 dogs at the Hughes kennel had died of heat exhaustion. This was the day before Todd Hughes called the families of the dogs and lied. According to Sheriff’s Offices spokesman Chris Hegstrom:
“One of the dogs chewed through an air conditioning wire overnight. When the [Hughes family] checked on the dogs the next morning, many were already dead.”
He added that Todd Hughes was not at home when the incident occurred (he was in Florida). There were 28 dogs in the room, 20 of which died. No charges have been filed against the Hughes family.
Here are my questions:
- How was an air conditioner wire accessible to the dogs?
- Why was the room full of 28 dogs?
- Was this room overcrowded?
- Was there enough water?
- Why isn’t there some kind of monitoring system?
This happened overnight but a check of the room — before any dogs were allowed in it — should have been carried out to find exactly the sort of thing that caused this tragedy. A monitoring system isn’t very expensive and, with 28 dogs in one room, should have been in place.
One family reported an earlier problem: upon picking up their dog from Green Acre he had paint all over him and what appeared to be chemical burns. He was running a fever of 106°. So far, this is the only such incident to be reported.
As you would expect, most of the families are not willing to accept the Sheriff’s conclusion that this was a “tragic accident.” One owner called it “an act of negligence.” This could have been prevented and some of the pet owners have indicated that they will take the case up in civil court.
Here is the report from WFSB: