Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the explanation given by the caretakers and owners of a Gilbert dog-boarding facility where 20 dogs died over the weekend "seems unreasonable."
The Sheriff's Office initially described the dogs' deaths at the Green Acres Boarding Facility as an accident, wherein a dog chewed through electrical wiring, killing the electricity and thus the air conditioning, leading to many of the dogs overheating by Friday morning.
Arpaio then announced at a press conference yesterday that MCSO actually had a lot of work to do on the case, including re-interviewing everyone involved. The Sheriff's Office later issued a press release declaring that Arpaio didn't believe the story provided by the owners, and the people who were supposed to be taking care of the dogs, Senator Jeff Flake's son and daughter-in-law.
Photos provided by MCSO do show the severed wiring that's being blamed for the deaths.
However, the explanation is that the dogs died from a lack of air conditioning overnight, which Arpaio isn't buying. He says "it seems unreasonable that dogs could be healthy at 11 p.m. at night and dead by 5:30 a.m. the next morning as the owners suggest."
"Even the veterinarian I met with today agrees that the timeline given by the owners and caretakers is highly suspect," Arpaio says.
The owners, Jesse and Malesia Hughes, were out of the state this week, and their home/pet-boarding business was left in the care of their relatives, Logan and Austin Flake. The Flakes discovered many of the dogs dead around 5:30 a.m. on Friday.
Although initially described as an accident, Arpaio insisted yesterday afternoon that the involvement of the Flake family of the incident has no impact at all on the investigation or recommendation of charges.
"We're going to conduct a professional investigation," Arpaio said.
Arpaio said he's spoken with several of the dog owners, who are going to have necropsies performed on their pets in an attempt to pin down their causes of death.
Additionally, Arpaio called out the owners for lying to pet owners after their dogs' deaths. The Hugheses had told at least one dog-owner that their pooch had run away, instead of baking to death in a hot room.
Photos released by the sheriff's office show the dogs' lifeless bodies arranged in a shed on the property.
Arpaio said there had been a few "minimal complaints" at the business in the past, but didn't have further information.
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No one has been arrested or charged at this point.
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