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Updated Jun 24, 2014 - 10:52 pm

Maricopa County attorney unsure of whether prosecution is in order for Green Acre owners

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery will wait for the results of an investigation before deciding whether to prosecute the owners of a dog boarding kennel where more than 20 canines were found dead over the weekend. (Bob McClay/KTAR)

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says it's too early to tell if the owners of Green Acre Dog Boarding in Gilbert will face any charges. He'll wait instead for the results of a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office investigation before deciding whether to prosecute.

"I want to wait until the investigation is complete and I get a chance to see everything," Montgomery said.

Twenty dogs were found dead at the facility on Saturday. Green Acre owners Todd and Maleisa Hughes claim the dogs died of heat exhaustion after one of them chewed threw wires and cut the electricity, leaving the small shed the dogs were in without air conditioning.

Part of the investigation involves the son of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake. The Sheriff's Office said that Austin Flake and his wife Logan were left in charge of the facility while the Hughes' were out of town. Montgomery said that if he does decide to go forward with the case, Austin won't get any preferential treatment.

"I don't care who you are, there is no surname defense in Arizona statutes," he said.

Montgomery said that a saying that he learned a long time ago reminds him to treat everyone the same, regardless of their status in life.

"An officer on duty knows no one -- to be partial is to dishonor both himself and his ill-advised favor," said Montgomery. "That was something that I was taught as an 18-year-old cadet at West Point, and it's been part of my life ever since."

The Arizona Animal Welfare league says the tragedy is proof that lawmakers should review regulations regarding animal boarding businesses. Montgomery said he needs to have several questions about this case answered before deciding whether he agrees.

One factor is that the incident happened on county land.

"Because it's a county island, it falls under county zoning and ordinance authority," Montgomery said. "There are some aspects of this that are both business licensing and regulation focused, and/or criminal penalty focused, and maybe both. So I want to wait and see exactly what the circumstances are before trying to come up with possible solutions."

He said that if changes are needed, he's willing to work with the state legislature to get them done.

Montgomery said that his heart goes out to the dog owners who lost their pets.

"My wife and I board our dog from time to time, though not at this facility. I'm aware of some of the concerns and obvious distress that some of the owners are in the middle of right now," he said.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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