A temporary restraining order has been lifted against the raffle of 25 puppies who survived a fire set by an owner of a Las Vegas pet store.
Donald Thompson, the co-owner of the Prince and Princess Puppies and Boutique, had tried to stop the raffle, which was originally going to be held earlier this month by the Animal Foundation, a local non-profit shelter.
The shelter had taken in the puppies after Gloria Lee, Thompson’s estranged wife and the pet store’s co-owner, tried to burn it down 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.
Because interest in adopting the so-called “arson puppies” was so strong, the Animal Foundation wanted to sell raffle tickets for them at $250 apiece.
“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.”
Many animal lovers were not happy with the raffle.
“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.”
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.
On March 7, Thompson filed a temporary restraining order and civil lawsuit that said the Animal Foundation and Clark County were “engaged in an illegal and unconstitutional taking of 27 canines.” Thompson wanted the puppies to go to a different animal rescue group, A Home 4 Spot.
At a hearing Wednesday, District Judge Ken Cory told Thompson and the Animal Foundation they would have 45 days to settle their dispute, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He accused both parties of wasting taxpayers’ dollars, and questioned their motivation.
By Friday, a decision was made. Two of the older dogs would be taken in by A Home 4 Spot, but the raffle for the 25 puppies would go on as planned. Ticket sales resumed online yesterday, and will end tomorrow morning. The winners will be announced Wednesday.
“Winners are subject to adoption screening by the Animal Foundation and A Home 4 Spot including, but not limited to, completion of an adoption application, a scheduled dog meet-and-greet (if winner has resident dog), and a scheduled in-person adoption screening and home check,” according to the Animal Foundation website.
Those who buy a ticket but don’t win a puppy can redeem it for the adoption of another animal at the shelter through Sept. 30, 2014.
The raffle brought in $6,750 yesterday, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. But as of this morning, no raffle tickets had been sold for 11 of the 25 dogs. Thirteen people have bought tickets for the most popular puppy, a 3-month-old Yorkshire Terrier named Ember.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect,” Meghan Scheibe, marketing and public relations manager for the Animal Foundation, told the Las Vegas Sun. “We are anticipating things picking up the sooner it gets to the close time. I think people are just biding their time to get another update until they throw their hat in the ring.”