Map: Green Acre
GILBERT, Ariz. -- The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said 17 dogs have died after the air conditioning went out at a Gilbert area boarding facility.
It happened at Green Acre near Queen Creek Road and Val Vista Drive, just outside the city limits of Gilbert.
The owners were reportedly out of town and left their two adult children to care for 30 dogs.
They failed to notice the air conditioning went out until it was too late, according to the sheriff's office.
Some dog owners said the business owners originally lied to them about what had occurred.
They said an owner called and told them that their dogs ran away, and it wasn't until another dog owner demanded to see his pet and saw it dead behind the shed that the word got around.
Those dog owners are calling it a coverup while MCSO said it appears to be an accident.
Dog owners and their friends frantically searched for their pets after being told they ran away.
"Seventeen dogs dead in there, and they told us that our dogs ran away,” Doug Hart said.
Hart and his sister had left her two dogs there while she went out of town. He went to the boarding facility and found out they were dead.
"They had to sift through the dogs to find our dogs," Hart said.
The sheriff's office said the business owners went to Florida and left their two adult children in charge, but sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning, they realized that the air conditioning had shut off in the part of the building that housed the dogs.
MCSO spokesman Officer Chris Hegstrom said it appeared the dogs chewed through dry wall and then through electrical wiring, causing the power to shut off.
"At this point, it looks like a tragic accident," he said.
"A horrible accident that 17 dogs died? All those dogs didn't die at the same time,” said Jill Cary, who went to the boarding facility to check on her animals.
Linda Heller, who was checking on her friend's dog, said she thinks the business owners should be charged.
Green Acre gave 3TV this statement:
“We are so heartbroken over the accidental events that have transpired resulting in the death of dogs in our care. We have put our heart and soul into caring for and loving dogs over the past several years, and this is our absolute worst nightmare.
Our own beloved Labrador, Patrick, was among the deceased.
We are so sad and so devastated for everyone involved in this situation. Our true and sincere condolences go out to everyone who has lost a beloved family member, and we are praying for them. We are truly heartbroken.”