17 dogs die in hot Arizona boarding home - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

17 dogs die in hot Arizona boarding home

Gilbert, Arizona (CNN) - The families of 17 dogs found dead at an Arizona boarding house say they're devastated. The boarding home owner says a damaged air conditioner led to the deaths, but that answer isn't good enough for many of the families who lost their pets.

In all, 17 are dead. Their owners are searching for the truth.

Valerie Collins lost two parts of her family, Carson and Daisy.

"These are my dogs. I wanted to keep one of their puppies when they got older so we'd still have a piece of them but we don't even have that now," said Collins.

Collins was one of the first to discover the horrible truth and called the sheriff's office. Others were told the dogs ran away. Many of the families on vacation sent relatives to search.

"Hoping maybe that their dog had run away only to have to identify a dead dog in a pile of corpses of Labs and St. Bernards and Goldens and Bernese Mountain dogs, just just piled like meat, rotting," said Collins.

"We were going to pick them up on our way home from California and bring them to our new home but now, they're dead," said dog owner Shannon Gillette, who was celebrating her son's birthday at Disneyland.

"We're trying to tell them we're never going to see them again and they don't understand," said Gillette. "They said 'We can just go pick them up from the hospital' and they can't because they're dead and they were killed."

The sheriff's office believes this was a tragic accident, when a dog chewed through wires shutting down the A/C inside Todd Hughes' boarding home. But owners say the lies, the stories...nothing is adding up.

"To know it was such a brutal death, it's not right and so many lies were told we just want the truth to come out," said Collins.

No criminal charges have been filed against Hughes or his family. Detectives say they believe what happened at the Hughes' home was a tragic accident.

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