The Animal Foundation and A Home 4 Spot will work together to find homes for 27 dogs that were rescued from a pet store fire in Las Vegas.
An agreement was announced Friday after weeks of conflict over who will determine the fate of the dogs. Officials brought out some of the famous dogs in a press conference at the Animal Foundation. Even Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson was holding a puppy.
“This little girl here in my arms is going to have a home within just a short few days,” Wolfson said.
People interested in adopting the 25 puppies will be able to enter into a drawing through the foundation’s website, www.animalfoundation.com, before Monday. The two older dogs in the group will be placed with A Home 4 Spot.
Tickets for the puppy drawing will cost $250 each. The date of the drawing has not been determined.
Those who win the drawing will be vetted by both organizations. That vetting process, based on that used by A Home 4 Spot, requires more work than what the Animal Foundation typically uses. The rescue group requires home visits before applicants can qualify, a task that will involve both the rescue group and the foundation.
“This tragedy should have never taken place,” said Animal Foundation Executive Director Chris Robinson. “However, the response by our community has been nothing less than a testament to the incredible animal lovers throughout Southern Nevada.”
The county took charge of the 27 dogs after a January arson at the Prince and Princess Pet Boutique.
Gloria Lee, 35, who is the pet shop’s majority owner and co-owner Donald Thompson’s estranged wife, and fledgling boxer Kirk Bills, 27, face 31 charges, including 27 counts of attempted animal cruelty, for the fire. A trial date was set for July 7.
Thompson filed a lawsuit against the Animal Foundation and the county seeking the canines. Before the litigation started, he had put in a claim of ownership with the county, which officials ignored as they planned a raffle. Prior to filing the lawsuit, Thompson also had told officials he wanted A Home 4 Spot to oversee adoption of the dogs.
Friday’s announcement followed a court-ordered settlement conference to resolve the lawsuit.
Jacob Hafter, an attorney for the pet shop, said the solution is aimed at the well-being of the dogs.
“The dogs — this is what it’s all about,” he said. “The dogs are going to be placed not just in any home, but in proper homes.”
Proceeds from the tickets that are not picked will go to future animal placements with the more than 70 rescue organizations that partner with the Animal Foundation.
That means the $250 raffle price tag is more of a gamble than the foundation’s initial plans. Under the original plan, participants who lost the raffle would have received a voucher that covered the costs of adopting a different animal at the shelter.
That’s not an option under the agreement, although officials stressed the funds will still help animals.
Robinson said the scrapped raffle process was never intended to be controversial.
“We had always planned to take any proceeds and sink it back into animal care or something that … worked for the animals,” she said.
As for the situation as a whole, Robinson said case has highlighted a broader issue — more than 40,000 animals come through the foundation’s shelter annually in need of homes.
“In lots of ways, it’s not been a bad thing,” she said.
Diana England, president and founder of A Home 4 Spot, also praised the outcome.
“It’s going to be great,” she said.
Wolfson drew laughter with a joke as the press conference wrapped up.
“This one’s for me,” he said, caressing a white puppy. “There is an exception to the raffle and because I’m the Clark County district attorney, I can make exceptions. I’m just kidding.”
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at email@example.com or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.