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Tag: arizona

Felony charges urged in Green Acre case

Green-Acre--memorial

Justice for the more than 20 dogs who died at an Arizona boarding kennel came one step closer this week with a recommendation from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office that both felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges be brought against the kennel’s owners and two caretakers, one of them the son of a U.S. senator.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he is recommending prosecutors file 21 felony charges of neglect against Todd and MaLeisia Hughes, who own Green Acre Dog Boarding in Gilbert; their daughter Logan Flake; and her her husband, Austin Flake, who is the son of U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake.

The final decision on filing charges will be made by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, the Arizona Republic reported. He says that process could take a few weeks.

Authorities found 21 dead dogs on the property June 21 when they went to the kennel after customers began learning something was amiss.

Some customers whose dogs had died while cramped with more than 25 others in a 12-by-12-foot laundry room were told their dogs had run away. Later, the kennel owners said there had been a “freak accident” that knocked out the room’s air conditioning.

The sheriff’s department investigation concluded the dogs died of “apparent suffocation and overheating.”

Two other dogs also died, including one who ran away.

The kennel owners were on vacation in Florida when the dogs died, and had left the animals in the care of the Flakes.

Sheriff Arpaio, said to have a soft spot for dogs, vowed at the investigation’s start to get to the bottom of what happened:  ”If a crime occurred, someone will be held accountable,” he said. It took nearly three months to accomplish that, but Arpaio was being praised this week, by the owners of pets who died and some members of the news media.

Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts commended Arpaio’s actions, saying, ”Of course, there are bigger cases to be cracked, more horrifying things that happen to humans every day. But on this day, there is no more important story than this one and the statement that it makes.

“For Parker and Rosie and Zed. For Ellie and Roxie and Francis.For Remy and Buick. For Valor and Patrick and Sonny.

“For a pair of Bernese Mountain dogs named Carson and Daisy.

“For all good dogs everywhere.”

(Photo: A memorial created near the Green Acre kennel in Gilbert to commemorate the more than 20 dogs that died there; by Corina Vanek / The Republic)

Fatcat finally catches some breaks

fatcat

For eight years, Fatcat led a life that was the opposite of her name — in many ways.

For starters, she wasn’t a cat.

And, as bulldogs go, she wasn’t too awfully fat.

And, from all appearances, she definitely did not enjoy the kind of  lifestyle the term Fatcat name might connote — she wasn’t idly resting in the lap of luxury. Far from it.

Instead, in the eight years after she was stolen as a puppy from the backyard of a home in Memphis, it’s believed she was used to produce puppies, by a less than ethical breeder who dumped her once she got too old.

fatcatasapupThe English bulldog was stolen in 2006 from the yard of LaShena Harris. She searched high and low for the dog, and though Fatcat had been microchipped, she was never found.

Until two weeks ago, when she was picked up as a stray and dropped off at a shelter in Arkansas.

There — at  the West Memphis Animal Shelter — she was scanned for a microchip, and Harris was tracked down, even though she’d long since moved to the Phoenix area.

Along with the good news, Harris received some bad news. Fatcat was in sad shape due to the years she spent as a baby-making machine —  and getting her to Phoenix was going to be a problem.

Fatcat was too big to ride in the cabin of a plane, and between her health problems and her breed — it’s risky to transport short-snouted dogs in a plane’s cargo hold — flying her home wasn’t going to work. Harris, a working single mother, wasn’t sure she could take time off to make the drive.

“I went from the highest high to the lowest low,” she said. Putting Fatcat down was discussed, but before consenting Harris asked the shelter for an extra 24 hours to make the decision.

When she called back the next day to authorize the shelter to euthanize Fatcat, the director of the shelter stopped her short, and offered a suggestion.

A friend of the shelter director who worked with a local rescue group was moving to Scottsdale, and offered to drive Fatcat there.

Harris and Fatcat were reunited last Thursday in a motel parking lot, and between media coverage of the reunion and a GoFundMe.com campaign, donations have poured in — about $6,500 so far — to help pay for Fatcat’s mounting medical bills.

“I am overwhelmed. It is just amazing. People don’t even know me and they are helping me out,” Harris, 34, of Glendale, said. “I’ve even gotten e-mails from the (United Kingdom). … I just don’t know what to say.”

On Monday, Fatcat was checked out by a local veterinarian who found she has heartworms, dental problems and masses around her vulva and anus that need to be removed, according to AzCentral.com

Harris launched the GoFundMe page with a $5,000 goal, and says she plans to donate any surplus to the shelter in Arkansas.

“How do you show gratitude to someone you’ve never met?” Harris wrote on her page. “Even if I don’t have Fatcat home for as long (in terms of her entire lifespan), I feel like the luckiest person in the world right now. I’m just glad she’s finally home.”

(Top photo: Patrick Breen / The Arizona Republic; bottom photo, Fatcat as a puppy, from LaShena Harris’ GoFundMe page)

Search finds little evidence to back up claim that chewed-through wire led to deaths

Necropsies conducted on some of the victims, and an intensive search of the Arizona boarding kennel where more than 20 dogs died, have revealed no evidence supporting the belief that a chewed-through electrical cord led to the deaths.

That, ever since the dogs died virtually overnight nearly a month ago, has been the claim of kennel owner MaLeisa Hughes, seen defending herself (and attacking the news media) in the raw interview footage above.

Hughes and her husband, Todd Hughes, were out of town when the dogs died, and had left the dogs under the supervision of their daughter, Logan Flake, and her husband, Austin Flake, who is the son of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.

The dogs — some dead, some dying — were discovered early in the morning on June 20, most of them held in the same 9-foot by 12-foot room.

Upon their return, Hughes’ husband told at least some of the owners of the deceased dogs that their pets had run away — another inconsistency MaLeisa Hughes attempts to explain in this June 23 meeting outside the kennel with the news media.

Last week, Maricopa County Sheriff’s detectives searched Green Acre Dog Boarding in Gilbert, seizing parts of an air conditioning system to determine if it failed.

Necropsies performed on seven of the 21 dogs also found no evidence to validate the kennel-owners’ statement that a dog had chewed through an electrical wire and cut the power to an air conditioning unit.

“On the dogs that were necropsied, there was no evidence found to support or suggesting electrocution,” concluded Dr. Bernard Mangone, the veterinarian who performed the necropsies at Palm Glen Animal Hospital. He said results indicate the dogs suffocated, but that more testing is required to pinpoint a cause of death.

Tissue samples were sent to the University of Arizona for further testing and to the University of Michigan to determine if the dogs were drugged, according to Arizona Republic.

Mangone wrote that it is possible the dogs died of heat stroke or lack of oxygen.

“The dogs begin to pant and become agitated which increases both their oxygen need and the amount of (carbon dioxide) they are producing,” Mangone wrote.

The search warrant indicates that investigators confiscated computers, cell phones and records associated with the operation of the facility, CBS 5 reported. Detectives also took samples of insulation and wiring from the small room where the dogs were found dead.

As of today, no arrests have been made and no criminal charges have been filed.

Deputies conduct search of Green Acre

070914_723_green-acre

Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies have finally conducted a search at the Gilbert boarding facility where 22 dogs died last month, seizing computers, cell phones, business documents, wiring, drywall and the body of yet another dead dog.

The remains of one dog buried on the property at Green Acre Dog Boarding were exhumed during the search, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.

The sheriff’s office brought along two electrical experts who concluded that, even if the air conditioning was working in the room where the dogs died, the air flow may not have been sufficient to keep them alive, according to the East Valley Tribune.

The business owners claim one of the dogs chewed through a wire which shorted out the air conditioning to the 9 by 12 foot room where 28 dogs were being kept.

Arpaio said Wednesday that the experts “suspect that even if the air conditioning system to that small room was functioning the day these dogs died, the air flow in that size room with so many large dogs inside it may not have been sufficient to keep those dogs alive.”

Arpaio said the owner of the boarding kennel, MaLeisa Hughes, was “somewhat hostile and uncooperative” during the search.

Sheriff’s detectives still haven’t re-interviewed the couple that was taking care of the animals while the business owners were out of town — Logan Flake, who is the owner’s daughter, and Austin Flake, her husband, who is the son of Sen. Jeff Flake.

Arpaio said Logan and Austin Flake left the state. When they were found and contacted in Provo, Utah they refused to answer any questions, Arpaio said.

Arpaio said he believes detectives will be able to make a determination soon about whether there’s enough evidence to file criminal charges against the owners and caretakers.

More questions arise about Gilbert kennel

sheriffpics

Workers at a Gilbert dog boarding operation were checking in newly-arrived dogs even as they stashed the corpses of other canine guests in a shed on the property.

That’s just one of the latest disturbing revelations in the case of Green Acre Dog Boarding, where 20 dogs were found dead from suspected heat-related causes last weekend.

The Arizona Republic reported yesterday that at least one customer checked her dogs in at about the same time workers were hiding the bodies of dogs who had perished and attempting to revive dogs who were dying.

Snow Aubel said she phoned the Green Acre Dog Boarding facility to confirm her pets’ drop-off time at about 10 a.m. Saturday morning and told the facility’s owner, Todd Hughes, she could be there within the hour.

He assured her that would be no problem, she said.

She dropped off her 7-year-old Weimaraner, Cheyenne, and 6-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever, Yepa, Saturday — apparently just hours before sheriff’s deputies began arriving at the boarding center.

Her dogs stayed at the facility until Sunday afternoon, when word started spreading about the deaths and a representative from the online booking site she used to make the reservation alerted her the dogs should be moved.

“What really makes me upset is when I was there the poor dogs that had passed away were right underneath my nose, and I didn’t even know it,” Snow said. “… They should not have accepted any more dogs.”

sheriffpics2In total, 20 of the 28 dogs the Sheriff’s Office found at the facility perished. Cheyenne and Yepa were alive and unharmed.

Workers told investigators that the dogs were last checked on Thursday at about 11 p.m.

They say when they returned, at 5:30 a.m. Friday, a large number were discovered dead. Others were on the brink of death.

Sheriff’s Office officials initially called the deaths a “tragic accident,” based on the owners’ claims that one of the dogs chewed through an electrical cord, turning off the air conditioning.

But Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Monday said that designation may have been premature. He promised a thorough investigation.

Arpaio said the owners’ timeline didn’t add up: “How can you be healthy at 11 o’clock and dead at 5:30 in the morning? I think that’s the key element,” he said.

Much else about the case doesn’t add up either:

Temperatures that night weren’t too hot — by Phoenix standards — staying in the 80s. At least 17 dogs were boarded in one 10-foot by 10-foot laundry room. Veterinarians weren’t called when staff started finding dead and dying dogs. And the owners told at least some clients that their dogs, who had perished, had “run away.”

On top of that, kennel workers hosed the sick dogs down and applied ice to them, which is contrary to recommended treatment for heat exhaustion, and can lead to dogs going into shock.

The owners of the kennel, Todd and MaLeisa Hughes, were out of town when the dogs died, but they cut their trip to Florida short upon learning of the deaths. In their absence, the boarded dogs were being cared for by the son of U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz), Austin Flake, and his wife Logan.

The sheriffs office, which released photos of what was found at the kennel this week, said political connections won’t influence their investigation.

(Photos: Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)

Hank gets his own house

hankshouse

Hank, the former stray dog who has become the unofficial mascot for the Milwaukee Brewers, has gotten his own house inside Miller Park.

The dog, adopted by the team after he wandered into their spring training camp in Arizona, will use the house for appearances, photo opps, and perhaps to get some rest — in between his duties – when he’s inside the stadium.

hankapWhile Hank goes home at night with Marti Wronski, vice president and general counsel for the Brewers, the team considers him the fan’s dog. So he needed someplace cozy to stay during games — a home base, so to speak.

The “Hank House” is a one-bedroom, Cape Cod-style, with an attached yellow slide. It was built by the Brewers architect.

“It took about two weeks to construct, and I think people will have fun with it,” Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger told WISN. “People just love Hank (and we’re) trying to make it a more habitable environment for him at Miller Park. And I think he’s going to like his house very much.”

The doghouse will be moved during the season to various parts of the stadium, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Hank, who has been a huge hit with Brewers fans, will soon be starring in a video, and, along with all the Hank merchandise already available, a bobblehead version of him is expected to go on sale in September.

(Photo: Top, Hank’s new doghouse inside Milwaukee’s Miller Park / WISN; bottom, Hank in Arizona, by Morry Gash / Associated Press )

The stray that showed up at spring training

hank

A walk-on has joined the Milwaukee Brewers during spring training in Arizona, and there’s a good chance he may go back to Milwaukee with them — as a mascot.

A small stray dog who appears to be a bichon frise, or mix thereof, wandered on to the team’s complex Feb. 17, with an injured tail and other signs he might have been hit by a car.

After team employees took him to a veterinarian for a checkup and a bath, he was brought back to the stadium and has been there almost every day since.

They’ve named him Hank, after baseball great Hank Aaron, who began his career in Milwaukee.

hank3“Yeah, he’s making a pretty big impact, which I’ve got to say is pretty cool,” pitcher Yovani Gallardo told Newsday

Believed to be around 2 years old, Hank was assigned No. 1 for his team jersey, and team reports about him on social media have made a local celebrity.

The team has posted signs in the area reporting the found dog, but no owner has stepped forward yet, and different members of the Brewer’s organization are vying for a chance to adopt him.

Team owner Mark Attanasio said his wife wants to adopt the dog, and some players have voiced a desire to keep him on the roster and have him travel with the team. “We want to do what’s right for the team,” Attanasio said. “I think he’s really an asset.”

Meanwhile, staff members are taking turns housing Hank for the evening.

During the day he watches practice from the stands at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, or from the dugout, and sometimes he takes to the field.

“Most of the guys here I’m sure we all have dogs back home and not everyone can bring em out because were out were working, pitcher Gallardo told Fox 10 News in Phoenix, “but to have this little guy out here running around with us it’s fun, spring training gets long and this makes us enjoy it a little more.”

(Photos: Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

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