What If You Boarded Your Dog And They Told You She Ran Away, But Then You Found Out She Died?

Last night over 200 people gathered for a candle light vigil here in Phoenix, Arizona in memory of 20 dogs who died tragically at Green Acre, the boarding facility who was supposed to take care of them.  Here in Phoenix, a place I refer to as one of the most dog friendly cities in the country, this tragedy has shaken our city to it's core.  

Along with other dog parents in Phoenix, I'm still reeling from the horrific tragedy that occurred last week, right here in our own backyard.  Imagine going away for a fun vacation, leaving your dog in what you thought were capable hands and receiving a call saying that your dog "ran away".  Far worse, you later find out they lied, that in fact she did not run away as you were told, she is dead. 

That's what happened to the families of 20 beautiful dogs in Phoenix last week.  They boarded their dogs at the Green Acre kennel.  Each family had received a call explaining that their dog(s) had run away from the facility.  The families soon realized however, that their dogs did not run away as they were told, their dogs were dead.  One family boarded all 3 of their dogs at Green Acre, and all three of their dogs died in this tragedy! 

WHAT HAPPENED??  There were several theories as to what really happened at the Green Acre kennel last week and how 20 beautiful dogs met a tragic end;

  • Was it because a dog chewed through the power cord leading to the air conditioner and the dogs died due to excessive heat?
  • Did the dogs suffocate due to lack of air in the small room in which they were kept?
  • Did the dogs die from dehydration, not given enough water in this hot dry desert climate?
  • Were the dogs supposed to have outdoor access via a doggy door but the door was locked?
  • Was it accidental, was there foul play, was it sheer negligence?
Here is a video containing the 911 calls from distressed owners source AZCentral.com

How could 20 dogs be in extreme distress and no one at the facility knew until it was too late?  There are more questions than answers at this point, the story keeps changing. 

The greatest danger to both people and dogs here in the hot desert climate is extreme heat and dehydration.  The week this incident occurred, temps were just under 110 degrees most days. The Green Acre kennel is in a private home. Judging from the photos I've seen, the rooms in which the dogs were kept appeared to be a shed and a laundry room.  There was fencing in the area surrounding the property, where dogs could be taken outside.

Supposedly, there is still one dog unaccounted for that did run away, at least that's the story Green Acre has given.  The entire city is now searching for 2 year old Valor, hoping that unlike his canine sibling Remington, he may have escaped the tragedy.  But if it turns out Valor perished in the tragedy, the death toll will be 21.

This is Valor, the dog people hope escaped the tragedy.  His canine sibling Remington was a victim of the tragedy.
The incident has captured the attention of our Sheriff, Joe Arpaio.  Sheriff Joe ordered necropsies on the deceased dogs and has launched an all out investigation into this incident.  "I don't want to hear the word accident" he said, "We're investigating".  Sheriff Joe often ruffles some feathers with his hard line approach, but one thing I love about our Sheriff is that he loves dogs!  He even has his own shelter with  dogs he's rescued from euthanasia, at the county prison.  Although the investigation continues, the prevailing theory is that a dog did chew through the power cord to the air conditioner and the dogs died due to excessive heat.  Why wasn't someone watching them that evening?  How do 20 dogs suffer extreme heat exhaustion for hours and no one notices?  The proprietor of Green Acre had gone on vacation, leaving the dogs in the care of her daughter and son in law.

The A/C power cord supposedly chewed through by one of the dogs Source: ABC15.com

I'm betting dog owners everywhere are wondering "what if that were my dog"? 

Here's a video of the emotional candle light vigil held last night for the dogs who lost their lives in this tragedy.  Source ABC15 Arizona

I didn't realize until now that there are no regulations around pet boarding facilities, at least not in Arizona.  I'm so grateful we board our dogs at the PetSmart Pets Hotel.  I know they'll be safe there because they have a great staff of dog lovers and stringent policies and procedures.  In fact, we have to follow most of the same guidelines at the PetSmart Charities Everyday Adoption Center I volunteer at.

Arizonians want justice for the 20 dogs who lost their lives in this tragedy.   They're also calling for legislation to be put in place to regulate the pet boarding industry.  Our hearts go out to the families who lost their beloved canine family members.  I hugged Isis and Phoebe fiercely after hearing this story.  We happened to be in Seattle when it happened, thankfully with our dogs safely ensconced at the PetSmart pets hotel back home in Phoenix.

Click here for more details on the Green Acre incident.

Here are some tips to help you choose a safe reputable boarding facility for your pet:

  • Get recommendations from friends, family, or your vet.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau for unresolved complaints and read reviews on Yelp and other online review sites just as you would any other establishment you're considering.
  • Tour the facility: Does it look/smell clean?  Ask to see all areas your pet may be accessing.
  • Ensure there is sufficient room for all the pets being boarded, adequate ventilation and climate control.
  • Ask if someone will be there 24/7 and how often they check on pets.
  • How often is water provided, is it monitored throughout the day?
  • What are exercise and potty routines - are they safe and supervised?
  • Are there comfortable beds or are pets expected to sleep on concrete floors?
  • Find out what experience or credentials the staff has, ask if they background check employees prior to hiring them.  Do staff members know CPR and first aid for animals?
  • Are there smoke detectors and/or sprinklers? What is their procedure if a fire breaks out?
  • What is the procedure if there's a power outage; do they have backup power?
  • How secure is the area inside and surrounding the property?
  • Do they require pets to be current on Rabies, Bordatella, and other important vaccinations?

How are you feeling after learning about this tragedy?  Do you feel certain your pet is safe with whomever you've chosen to care for him in your absence?  Please post a comment, I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.



Unknown said...

Oh my gosh. This is just AWFUL - a dog owner's worst nightmare! What on earth were the business-owners doing?! I can't even think about this for too long or I will cry. Our local boarding facility has a convenient set-up where, if the temperature changes even by one degree, the owners get text notifications...and they come immediately to see if there's an issue. How could someone allow this to happen? Sharing. :(

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Yes it is truly a pet parent's worst nightmare. I'm glad you have a reputable boarding place for your pets. Thanks for commenting Chelsea

Unknown said...

Wow....I am so sorry for the loss to all those poor pups and their parents, that is just horrific :( how could this happen!!!!!!
I have never had to leave my huskies before, but we were planning to go away for 2 days this summer, I have been doing my best to research different doggie day cares and kennels, I just hope I can trust my judgement :/
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

It is horrific, so unbelievable. Check out boarding facilities carefully. Go through these tips, get reco's from friends, check review sites, and check the Better Business Bureau as well; complaints would likely show up there. I think you have good judgment so I'm sure you'll make the right choice. We board @ PetSmart, they're awesome.

M. K. Clinton said...

Oh my God! I cannot fathom the pain and heartbreak these pet parents feel. I am crying like a 2 year old. I hope the owners are arrested for abuse and negligence. My heat is absolutely broken for the families.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Me too, especially since it happened right here in our city,our incredibly dog friendly, dog loving city. I've been crying every time I see it on the news. That heartbreak is unimaginable. Finding a reputable place to board your pet is critical. Thanks for your comments.

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