Authorities in Arizona said Monday that they are investigating the death of 20 dogs at a pet-boarding service in Gilbert, a town in Maricopa County, including the involvement of a senator's son in the incident, according to media reports.
Seventeen dogs were found dead on Friday due to heat exhaustion after a failure in the air-conditioning at the Green Acre boarding house, which was under the care of the son and daughter-in-law of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., while the owners Todd and MaLeisa Hughes were in Florida, Fox News reported, citing MyFoxPhoenix.com. Three other dogs were found dead Monday, media reports said, citing the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, or MCSO.
The owners reportedly told officials that the power at the facility went out sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning, after one of the dogs apparently chewed through an air-conditioning power cord.
"But it seems unreasonable that dogs could be healthy at 11 at night and dead by 5:30 the next morning as the owners suggest," Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio reportedly said, at a news conference Monday. "Even the veterinarian I met with agrees that the timeline given by the owners and caretakers is highly suspect."
Flake reportedly called the incident a “tragic accident” saying: “I can't imagine the devastating loss these families are experiencing. My heart goes out to the owners who lost their beloved pets.”’
According to reports, some of the dogs' owners, who claimed that they were not informed about their pets' deaths until Saturday morning, have contacted lawyers to file a possible case against the kennel's owners.
The owners were not reportedly arrested or charged in the incident and police officials did not confirm or deny the involvement of the senator’s son, who is also the son-in-law of the pet-boarding facility's owners.
"The wire was sparking. It could have burned down our whole house," Hughes said, according to USA Today. "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."