Nothing seemed amiss when Snow Aubel dropped her two dogs off at a Gilbert, Ariz., kennel last Saturday morning. Just two hours later, however, police swarmed Green Acre, removing numerous dogs thought to have died sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning. In total, 20 of the 28 dogs found at the kennel were dead, and though the sheriff's office initially described the deaths as "tragic accident" (it explained a dog chewed through an air-conditioning unit cord), it later said that designation was premature, the Arizona Republic reports. "How can you be healthy at 11 o'clock and dead at 5:30 in the morning? I think that's the key element," a sheriff said Monday.
As for Aubel, she says owner Todd Hughes "never said anything about what was going on." Though her dogs were fine, others weren't so lucky. One owner who lost his dog tells Fox 10 the animal had wounds on his legs and paws. A family has since come forward to say they picked up their dog from the kennel weeks earlier to find he had a cut and swollen paw, was covered in paint, and had fur missing, AZFamily reports. As for the owners' initial story that the dogs ran away, owner Meliesa Hughes is heard on a hidden video acquired by Fox 10 explaining, "my husband panicked and made a bad decision, we did have one that ran off, that is true." The sheriff notes a helicopter has been searching for the missing dog, though there's no proof the dog did indeed escape.