U.S. Senator Jeff Flake’s son Austin and his wife Logan, both 21, have pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges following the deaths from heat exhaustion in June of 21 dogs who were in their care at a dog-boarding facility in Phoenix, Arizona, AZFamily.com reports.
The couple were acting as caretakers at a facility owned by Logan’s parents — Jesse Todd Hughes and Maleisa Maurine Hughes — who were away in Florida when the incident took place. The Sheriff’s investigation concluded that the dogs, who were confined in a small room that measured eight by 12 foot, likely died on June 20 from suffocation and heat exhaustion.
The owners stated that the air-conditioning was turned off after a dog had chewed through the electrical cord, but the investigators have not confirmed that. It is unknown for how long the power had been off, but the temperatures went up to 100 degrees. When the dogs’ dead bodies were found the next morning, some of the owners told the investigators that they were initially told their pets had run away.
An Arizona state grand jury has also indicted owners Jesse Todd and Maleisia Hughes with 22 felony each, seven misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and one count of fraud for the incident. The couple have pleaded not guilty. Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for the county attorney’s office, told Reuters that the felony charges carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison, although most defendants receive probation in animal cases.
Owners of the dead dogs have also filed a civil lawsuit against the Hughes and the Flakes, alleging that the dogs were confined in cramped quarters and faced “neglect, mistreatment, physical injury and psychological abuse”. (Scroll down for the video report.)
1. Austin Flake, 21, and his wife Logan Flake, 21, pictured in their mug shots, have pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges after more than 20 dogs died in their care over the summer.
2. The couple were looking after the boarding facility while Logan’s parents, the owners, were away.
3. Austin is pictured in 2008 with his father Senator Jeff Flake, mother Cheryl Flake, and sister Alexis.
4. The dogs were found dead on June 20 and authorities say they died from heat exhaustion.
5. It appears that one of the dogs chewed through the air conditioner’s cord, switching off the power.
6. Questions have also been raised about the cramped conditions (dogs are pictured at the facility).
7. A makeshift memorial can be seen outside the Green Acre Dog Boarding house in Gilbert.
8. More than 20 dogs passed away in cramped conditions at the boarding facility on June 20.
Here is the video report of the tragedy:
And here is the owner of the dog kennel speaking out about the tragedy:
And here is ABC’s report:
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