Arpaio: Kennel owners, caretakers should be charged with cruel animal neglect in 21 dog deaths

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PHOENIX — The four people responsible for 21 dogs who died at a Gilbert kennel three months ago should face felony charges for cruel animal neglect, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Tuesday.

Arpaio said his office forwarded its investigation into the June 20 deaths at Green Acres Boarding Kennel to prosecutors for review.

"I'm very confident we have the proper evidence for a conviction," Arpaio said at a news conference.

Kennel owners Todd and MaLesia Hughes have said the animals died of heat exhaustion in an 8- by 12-foot room when one dog chewed through the air conditioner's power cord after two caregivers had left the facility for the night. None of the four has been arrested.

Sheriff's investigators said in July that no evidence was found that a chewed-up electrical wire had cut power to a cooling unit. A veterinarian who performed necropsies on some of the dogs says they likely suffocated to death.

"The key issue here is failure to provide food, water and shelter," Arpaio said. "That's what we're basing the felony charges on."

The Hugheses were vacationing in Florida at the time and said their daughter Logan Flake and son-in-law Austin Flake, whose father is U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., were in charge of watching the dogs.

The Flakes reportedly tried to save the animals by hosing and icing them down, but authorities said they didn't call for emergency assistance before the dogs died.

Telephone messages left for the Flakes and Hugheses seeking comment on the case weren't immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.

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