It all started on January 27th. Flames broke out in an upscale pet store in Las Vegas called Prince & Princess. In the security video, you can see a woman letting a man in through the back door; he then starts to slash a liquid from two gas cans around the shop, in the cages and ignites the liquid with a newspaper. Luckily, the store’s sprinkler system put out the fire, and firefighters were able to rescue the dogs inside.
Soon after, police arrested Gloria Eun Hye Lee and Kirk Bills, and charged her with arson, burglary, and attempted cruelty to animals. The trials will be held in July, and both of the accused people have plead guilty to the charges. However, the dogs are in a legal limbo with the court over their fate.
Local stations have been following the story of these 25 puppies and 2 older dogs daily. All of the animals went to the Animal Foundation, a nonprofit group in the Las Vegas area. However, the shelter euthanizes about half of the 40,000 stray animals they receive each year, which brought about a great amount of tension among local animal activists.
The shelter decided to hold a raffle due to the number of people who wanted to adopt the animals. Activists feared less caring people may try to gain a profit from these dogs by selling them for a higher price on Craigslist or other auctions. Donald Thompson, Lee’s estranged husband, sued in civil court to stop the raffle, claiming he, as managing member, owned the puppies. In contrast, he did not want possession of them. He instead demanded the animals be transferred to an animal rescue group called A Home 4 Spot. A judge issued a restraining order to block the raffle from happening at the Animal foundation, and an evidentiary hearing was held on Wednesday to determine if Thompson will have legal control over the fate of the dogs.
In our previous blog, we spoke about the legal rights of animals and how complicated it can be when animals don’t have a voice in the legal system. People have to step up and defend animals in order to gain legal rights in our court systems. Without animal activists and the strength animal and environmental lawyers have gained over the decades, these puppies might have ended up in less than favorable conditions and a bad quality of life.