Puppies saved from fire in a pet store.
More than two dozen so-called “arson puppies,” who survived a fire set by the owner of a Las Vegas pet store, were to be offered as raffle prizes starting today by the Animal Foundation, a local non-profit shelter.
Not too surprisingly, many animal lovers were outraged.
“You raffle off cakes and televisions, and you raffle off prizes,” Gina Greisen, of Nevada Voters For Animals, told KTNV Action News. “These are live animals. They are not objects.”
Today the co-owner of the pet store filed a restraining order against the Animal Foundation that has put the raffle on hold, at least temporarily.
The 27 puppies were taken in by the non-profit after Gloria Lee, co-owner of the Prince and Princess Puppies and Boutique, tried to burn down the store in January in order to collect insurance money.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, in a surveillance video, Lee is seen letting her co-conspirator, Kirk Bills, into the pet store. Bills splashed a flammable liquid onto the puppy cages and ignited it.
Fortunately, the store’s sprinkler system saved the puppies’ lives. None were injured.
Both Lee and Bills pleaded not guilty to 31 counts, including 27 counts of animal cruelty – one for each puppy. Lee’s trial is scheduled to begin in July.
The Animal Foundation had planned to sell raffle tickets for the puppies at $250 apiece. The drawing would have been held on March 14.
“We want to allow everyone interested in adopting one of these dogs the opportunity to adopt,” stated Christine Robinson, the foundation’s executive director, in a press release. “A raffle process is the best way to guarantee everyone receives a chance.”
Although potential adopters would have been required to attend an in-person screening, some who opposed the raffle expressed concern that the puppies could fall into the wrong hands.
“Worst-case scenario, someone’s going to try to flip the dog and put it on Craigslist,” Bryce Henderson, of No Kill Las Vegas, told KTNV.
The funds raised by the raffle would support the Animal Foundation’s programs and initiatives, “which benefit more than 40,000 lost, unwanted and abandoned animals entering the nonprofit’s shelter each year through no fault of their own,” according to the press release.
Those who bought a ticket but didn’t win a puppy could redeem it for the adoption of another animal at the shelter through Dec. 31, 2014.
Donald Thompson, Lee’s estranged husband and co-owner of the pet store, filed a temporary restraining order today to stop the raffle. The restraining order states that the Animal Foundation and Clark County are “engaged in an illegal and unconstitutional taking of 27 canines.” Thompson wants the puppies to go to a different animal rescue group.
A district judge will conduct a hearing on Tuesday to determine whether the raffle can be held.