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Tag: bodies

One more dead dog, but no more answers, in Arizona’s Green Acre Dog Boarding case

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Sometimes really big stories that raise really huge questions that demand really immediate answers have a way of slipping out of the public eye.

Sometimes that’s the fault of lazy news organizations failing to fulfill their watchdog function. Sometimes it’s a result of less than vigilant police investigation. Sometimes it’s the result of behind the scenes orchestrations by the subjects involved.

I’m not sure which is the case with the story of Green Acre Dog Boarding, where 21 dogs died virtually overnight, but 40 years as a newspaper reporter, watching stories surge and ebb, tells me this one seems to be vanishing from the headlines too fast — despite a large and continuing public outcry.

More than two weeks after the 21 dogs died — almost all of them paid guests at the boarding center — the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has filed charges against no one, and has yet to obtain a warrant to further search the property,Fox News in Phoenix reports.

Nor have deputies re-interviewed the people who were supposed to be caring for the dogs, including the couple assigned to watch over them that weekend, Austin and Logan Flake. (Austin Flake is the son of Sen. Jeff Flake. Logan Flake is the daughter of the boarding center’s owners, who were out of town when the dogs died.)

“We do not know where Austin and his wife are, but I am sure that we will make contact soon,” Sheriff Joe Arpaio said last week.

While the sheriff is a dog lover, and while he has promised the investigation will be a meticulous one, some folks sense his office is taking too casual an attitude about the case.

Fox reported that the sheriff’s office has interviewed many of the owners of the dead dogs. But since their first visit to the home two Saturdays ago, they haven’t re-interviewed the owners of the business or the Flakes.

The only new news about the case came over this past weekend, when a dog who was missing from the kennel was found dead on the side of a road, four miles away.

A bicyclist spotted the dog’s body and suspected the German shepherd mix was Valor, the dog who ran away from the Green Acre Dog Boarding in Gilbert.

Valor had apparently been hit by a car, sheriff’s officials said at a press conference Saturday, according to the Arizona Republic.

Arpaio again said the investigation into the 21 heat-related deaths at the kennel is ongoing. ”It takes time to obtain evidence. The facts will come out,” he said.

Some dog owners were told their dogs had “run away” from the kennel when, in reality, they had died from the heat and their bodies were being stored in a shed. Questions have also been raised about why veterinarians weren’t called to the kennel so they could receive proper treatment.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived at the boarding center, staff told them that one of the boarded dogs had chewed through a wall and through a wire overnight, knocking out power to the air conditioner.

It’s not clear whether that was a lie, but owners and operators of the kennel have told enough other ones that you’d think they would have been interrogated by now.

At a vigil last weekend many of the dog’s owners questioned why it was taking investigators so long to get a search warrant. Most believe the deaths of the dogs — all lodged in the same small room — to be a result of neglect by the kennel operators.

Green Acre is no longer operating as a kennel, according to its listing on Yelp.com.

But angry dog lovers are continuing to post “reviews” on the website.

One satirical comment, from Richard B., reads:

“When I want to mass execute dogs holocaust style green acres dog boarding is #1!!! Not only do they execute all dogs you provide them, they make sure to do it as slow and painful as possible so those dogs really have time to dwell on their eminent demise. I really love the lack of water and supervision that was given as well. Why waste water and time on dogs that are goin to be exterminated anyway? That’d just be foolish. Green acres really has dog mistreatment down to a science. Don’t worry about pesky police punishing anyone for neglect. Green acres has years of proven experience in misdirection and misinformation that’ll have even the most relentless detectives confused and unconcerned.”

Some commenters are also complaining that their negative remarks about Green Acre have been removed from Yelp,  and are asking why.

Cary H. wrote, “Green Acres killed my 3 dogs and 19 others last week. I hope they have shut down. Yelp please don’t delete this truthful post as you have all the others. You could be saving a dogs life by keeping this up!”

“People have a right to know what happened and we very much rely on sites like Yelp to make an educated decision,” one comment read. “And even if, this investigation isn’t fully completed, factual reports should remain up. Personal reviews and ratings is why we come to Yelp! Deleting reviews makes us question Yelps integrity and the reviews posted throughout the site…”

More questions arise about Gilbert kennel

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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)

Arizona county shoots jailed man’s 50 dogs

Animal rights groups are criticizing the decision by animal control officers in Navajo County, Arizona to shoot and kill more than 50 dogs owned by a man who was serving a month in jail and couldn’t take care of them.

According to the Arizona Republic, the woman who heads the shelter where the county usually takes stray dogs said the agency could have handled the dogs if someone had called.

“Shooting is not a humane way to end an animal’s suffering,” said Anna-Marie Rea, executive director of the Humane Society of the White Mountains in Lakeside.

“We do feel like the decision made in the field was the right one to prevent suffering for the animals,” said Dr. Wade Kartchner, director of the county’s health department.

The dogs were owned by Edward Harvey, who lives outside of Heber and regularly took in stray dogs. He said he had been jailed for about a month on a gun violation in early May because he couldn’t make bail. He returned home to find some of the dogs’ bodies still on his property.

“That’s more punishment than I deserve,” Edward Harvey. “No one needs to be treated that way, especially animals.”

While the county contracts with the Humane Society of the White Mountains for shelter services, county officials said the dogs were aggressive, would have been difficult to round up and would likely have died in the county animal-pickup vans, which aren’t air-conditioned.

Rea said the humane society could have dispatched a euthanasia technician, food, water and kennels to the site, or have transported the animals to shelter.

The agency has fielded at least 30 phone calls from upset residents who read about the shooting in a local newspaper.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also are criticizing the shooting.

“Animal-control departments and the Humane Society around the country have dealt with situations where a large number of animals that need to be contained and humanely dealt with without resorting to shooting the animals,” said Betsy McFarland, senior director for companion animals at the Humane Society of the United States.

PETA has aksed for an investigation into the shooting.

Whether you think the measure of a civilization is how it treats its prisoners, or how it treats its dogs, it’s clear Navajo County doesn’t measure up too well on either count.

Heads and tails: You can build your own mutt

If you need something to keep the kids busy on Christmas Eve, or perhaps even simple-minded grown-ups like myself, here’s a website that can provide, if not hours of entertainment, at least enough time to run out for some last minute gifts, or egg nog.

It’s the Mutt Maker, from Animal Planet, which allows you to combine attributes of 20 dog breeds — head, body, tail, legs — and fashion your own mutt. It then shows you a cartoon image of it, and gives it a name.

Example: Take the pug head, put it on a Rottweiler body, add poodle legs and a shih-tzu tail, and you’ve got a “Purotttzuoodle.” In a nice touch, every time you put on a new head, you hear the bark of that breed.

After that, you have the options of entering it in “best in show,” getting a “certificate of legacy” for your creation, or adorning it with accessories, including bonnet, cowboy boots, cape, glasses, pipe and more.

It’s not exactly the same as a puppy under the tree, but it’s free, interactive, won’t soil the carpet, and is relatively quiet — and for the child who’s not quite ready for a living, breathing, responsibility-laden puppy of his own, it’s a good way to learn a little more about dogs.