The owner of an Arizona kennel has been found guilty of lying to his customers, informing them that a group of dogs had escaped from his home, which doubles as a kennel, when they had actually died from heat exhaustion.
The man, Todd Hughes, had a total of 17 dogs die in his Gilbert, Arizona home/kennel. According to Raw Story, the dogs all died while being held in a room with no air conditioning. There were a total of 28 dogs in the home.
The individuals who had dropped off their pets at Hughes’ home claim that the kennel owner called them to inform them that the dogs had gone missing. Only after the pet owners had begun conducting search parties of various sizes did police confirm that the dogs had been discovered in Hughes’ home.
“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,” said Chris Hegstrom, spokesman for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
The Hughes family has defended the incident, claiming that they were not responsible for the backlash they have been receiving from the public.
“The wire was sparking. It could have burned down our whole house. My whole house could have burned down and all my children could have died, and then it would have been a tragedy. But because it didn’t catch fire, we’re dog killers,” said MaLeisa Hughes, co-owner of the building and business.
Although no criminal charges have been filed against the Hughes, several of the dog owners are expected to file civil suits for negligence. According to AZ Central, several factors — such as the size of the room in which the dogs were kept, proper access to ventilation and other general care-taking practices could have led to the deaths of the dogs. Still, Hughes' decision to conceal the truth when speaking with the dog owners suggests he may have had something to hide.