In Las Vegas, there is a real life Cruella de Vil, except instead of fur coats, she intended on killing puppies for insurance money.
On January 27, a fire erupted at the classy pet store Prince & Princess but security tapes showed that the flames weren’t an accident. In a clip, a woman lets a man into the store, where he douses the property and the puppies (!!!) in gasoline and lights up newspapers to get a good blaze going. Fortunately, the New York Times reports that the two alleged arsonists didn’t account for the emergency sprinkler system, which slowed the fire with enough time for firefighters to save the puppies.
Now Gloria Eun Hye Lee, one of the Prince & Princess owners, is charged with arson, burglary and attempted cruelty to animals and her sidekick Kirk Bills, who tried to run but was arrested in Indiana, faces a slew of similar charges stemming from the blaze. Both Lee and Bills pleaded not guilty and their criminal trials are slated for July however the dogs’ fates are still up in the air.
First, the 25 puppies and two older dogs went to the nonprofit Animal Foundation, where about half of their population are euthanized. Vegas animal rights activists weren’t happy with the foundation’s track record or the fact that their facility is housing the rescued dogs, but there were plenty of hopeful adoptive parents, too many actually.
Christine Robinson, the executive director of the foundation, said her organization quickly realized that the traditional first-come, first-served process would not work for these pups. “People would be lining up at 3 in the morning, pushing each other out of line,” she said. Instead, the foundation decided to hold a raffle to give people a chance to buy the dogs, charging the shelter’s adoption fee of $250 a ticket.
But the animal rights folks weren’t happy about that either, claiming the fund-raiser might give collectors a chance to get a discount on a regularly high-priced pup and pitch them to the highest bidder on some of evil Internet corner. Then, in a dramatic Scandal turn, Lee’s estranged husband Donald Thompson showed up (!!!) and claimed that the puppies were his because he co-owns the charbroiled Prince & Princess with his wife, Lee. Thompson's lawyers said the county and the Animal Foundation are just trying to profit from the puppies. Instead, Mr. Thompson wants the puppies to go to a different animal shelter, A Home 4 Spot, and find adoptive homes for the pups there.
So now all those people who were hoping to save a dog for $250 are out of luck, a judge blocked the raffle adoption party and will decide on Wednesday if Thompson has legal rights to the dogs.
But do we really feel comfortable giving the dogs to the guy who was missing in action when they almost went up in flames? I vote no.