A group of families share a terrible tragedy. They all clutch photos of their dogs that were killed at a place they call “The Kennel from Hell.”
One dog owner, Shannon, told INSIDE EDITION, “These were our family members.”
Another owner, David, said, “It's one of the worst experiences of our lives.”
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Twenty-three dogs perished at a ranch house outside Phoenix, Arizona, that doubled as a kennel.
One dog owner, Heather, said, “Their job was to keep them safe and they didn't do that.”
The kennel owner says the dogs all died of heat exhaustion following a freak accident, when a dog ate through a wall, then, chewed through the electrical chord and shut down the air conditioning system.
The owner's distraught wife spoke to reporters and said, "He has cried for three days straight! Do you understand how horrible we feel about this?"
Cops say the kennel owners herded nearly 30 dogs into a windowless 9-by-12-foot room and sealed the door with tape so the stench wouldn't get into the rest of the house. But that cut off the oxygen supply and the dogs eventually suffocated.
In a 911 call, a dog owner said, “I need somebody sent out here to this address. This man just murdered my two dogs.”
The owner then confronted the kennel owner, saying, “You idiot! How could you do this? All you had to do was watch a dog, you killed multiple dogs!”
Shannon Gillette lost her two dogs, Parker and Sherman. You can understand her grief. She and her husband, David, treated their dogs like family. Sherman was even best man at their wedding.
They were vacationing in Disneyland and thought the kennel, which advertised itself as a "Disneyland for Dogs," would be a great place to leave their dogs. While at Disneyland, Shannon said the kennel owner, Todd Hughes, left a message falsely claiming the dogs had dug a hole in the yard and escaped.
In the voicemail, Hughes said, "Sherman and Parker got out of the hole. We're out looking for them right now."
Shannon told INSIDE EDITION, “Todd Hughes, who left me this voicemail, was not looking for dogs. He was standing there with a wheelbarrow and shovel digging dog graves.”
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the kennel owners actually went on vacation themselves, leaving a 21-year-old worker in charge of the kennel. Who was that young man? None other than the son of the United State Senator from Arizona, Jeff Flake.
No charges have been filed. Arpaio says politics won't affect the outcome of his investigation, saying, “When the people that we're investigating place 28 animals in a 9-by-12-foot room, I don't think that meets the smell test.”
There is now a makeshift memorial outside the kennel in the town of Gilbert, Arizona, where the dogs are being called the "Gilbert 23."
Shannon's family got a new dog, but they mourn the loss of the pets that are now gone forever.
Senator Flake told INSIDE EDITION in a statement that his heart goes out to all the dog owners who lost their beloved pets.