MCSO officials return to Green Acre boarding facility in Gilbert

GILBERT, AZ - Officials with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office found two dead rabbits at the Green Acre boarding facility, the same place where more than 20 dogs were found dead last month.

Viewers posted multiple reports to ABC15's Facebook and Twitter pages that MCSO officials had returned to the boarding facility Wednesday afternoon, where more than 20 dogs died in June.

The two rabbits were found in the backyard of the facility.

“Here we go again,” Sheriff Joe Arpaio said of being back at the facility.

Arpaio said he is losing his patience having to respond to more reports of dead animals at the facility. The owners of the facility were not home at the time of the search warrant.

A witness told ABC15 that the rabbits’ water bottle was on the ground outside of the animals’ pen. That pen is next to the shed where some of the dogs’ bodies were found last month. The rabbits were the Hughes’ pets, according to the witness. The witness, who declined to be identified, said the rabbits could be seen in the pen daily.

The investigation continues in connection with the June incident; no charges have been filed. The kennel's owners, Todd and Maleisa Hughes, told ABC15 that one of the dogs chewed through a wire connected to the air conditioning unit between June 19-20, shutting it off. They said that caused the animal's deaths.

RELATED: No evidence dogs chewed through electrical wiring, search warrant says

The Hughes’ claim they were out of town the night the dogs died. The couple arranged for the dogs to be taken care of by their daughter and her husband, who is Arizona Senator Jeff Flake’s son.

Sheriff’s detectives tried to interview the couple, but Arpaio said Logan and Austin Flake would not return phone calls and instead left the state. When they were tracked down in Provo, Utah they refused to answer any questions, Arpaio said.

RELATED: AZ lawmaker rallying support for tough pet boarding regulations

MCSO officials executed a search warrant and conducted a search of the property on July 9 finding a dog buried in the backyard, as well as removing evidence to hopefully determine what caused these animals to die. 

Arpaio said Thursday that some initial toxicology results were now available in connection with the dogs’ deaths. The sheriff declined to share the results, saying more tests had to be conducted.

The warrant, released on July 16, goes on to say the dogs were given inadequate shelter. More than 20 dogs were locked in a 9-foot-by-12-foot room, and the four caretakers failed to provide medical treatment that was needed to prevent suffering, the warrant said.

In that search warrant, necropsies showed that the dogs tested did not show signs of electrocution.

A veterinarian who performed necropsies on some of the dogs said they likely suffocated to death.

“[I]t is possible for the dogs to have died of suffocation if the room has no other ventilation and is well sealed off from other parts of the house,” the veterinarian told investigators.

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