AZ kennel owner allows 17 dogs to die in the heat, tells owners dogs ‘ran away’

An Arizona kennel owner is under fire after calling pet owners telling them their dogs had escaped his care only for the owners to discover that the dogs had died from heat exhaustion in his home.

Thursday night, Arizona authorities discovered 17 dogs had died at a Gilbert, Arizona, boarding kennel owned by Todd Hughes and his family, according to CBS5AZ.

According to several owners, Hughes had contacted them telling them their dogs had escaped.

After receiving the call, several owners who were out-of-state sent friends to search for their dogs.

Families and friends arrived to scour the area for their missing dogs only to the discover that the dogs had died while being held in a room where the air conditioning failed.

Families are questioning how the dogs could have died from the heat overnight with temperatures in the 80's

Justin Taylor who showed up to search for his family's missing 6-year-old golden retriever, Koda, said the owner lied to everyone.

"Todd [Hughes] called everybody and said, 'Oh, your dogs got out and they're missing,'" Taylor said. "They weren't missing. They're dead."

According to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Hughes wasn't home at the time of the incident, leaving it to his family to check on the animals.

"One of the dogs chewed through an air conditioning wire overnight," Sheriff's Office spokesman Chris Hegstrom said. "When the [Hughes family] checked on the dogs the next morning, many were already dead."

According to Hegstrom there was a total of 28 dogs in the home, adding that the incident was "a horrible tragic accident."

One owner, Heather Bennett, disagreed.

"It wasn't [a tragic accident]," Bennett said. "It was an act of negligence, completely."

No criminal charges have been filed and families are expected to file civil suits against the kennel owner.

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