Gilbert kennel owners plead not guilty in 21 dog deathsPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- The owners of a Gilbert dog boarding facility where more than 20 dogs died over the summer pleaded not guilty to a variety of charges Wednesday.
Jesse Todd and Malesia Maurine Hughes own Green Acre Boarding.
They, along with their daughter and son-in-law, Logan and Austin Flake, were indicted two weeks ago.
The Hugheses said the animals died of heat exhaustion on June 20 in an 8- by 12-foot room when one dog chewed through the air conditioner's power cord after the caretakers left the facility for the night.
The couple was vacationing in Florida at the time and said their daughter and son-in-law, the Flakes, were in charge of watching the dogs, authorities said.
The Flakes reportedly tried to save the animals by hosing and icing them down, but authorities said they didn't call for emergency assistance before the dogs died.
A veterinarian who performed necropsies on some of the dogs said they likely suffocated.
County sheriff's investigators said in July that no evidence was found that a chewed-up electrical wire had cut power to a cooling unit and forwarded their findings to Montgomery's office.
The indictment charges the Hugheses with 22 felony counts and seven misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and one felony count of fraudulent schemes and artifices.
Prosecutors said the couple also is facing one felony count each of fraudulent schemes and artifices.
The pair pleaded not guilty when they were arraigned Wednesday morning.
Austin and Logan Flake each are charged with 21 felony counts and seven misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals.
Only the Hugheses were arraigned Wednesday. The Flakes will be arraigned at a later date.
The Hugheses will be back in court on Dec. 17.
Maricopa County Attorney's Office: Green Acre Boarding Case (Gilbert 23)