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Animal Foundation to raffle off 27 puppies that survived pet store fire

The famous 27 puppies that survived a Las Vegas pet store fire will be raffled off, with tickets costing $250 each.

The Animal Foundation announced the details Tuesday afternoon.

The raffle will start Friday and last through March 13 under plans also disclosed at Tuesday’s Clark County Commission meeting by the foundation’s executive director, Christine Robinson.

The nonprofit organization operates an animal shelter for Clark County, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, which have their own animal control operations.

Raffle winners will be picked at random and notified on March 14.

It’s another chapter in the journey for 27 canines that captured national attention after surviving a pet store fire. Hundreds of calls have poured into the shelter, both from within the community and from out of state by people hoping to adopt, officials said.

Firefighters rescued the puppies on Jan. 27 from the Prince and Princess Pet Boutique at 6870 S. Rainbow Blvd. One of the shop’s owners, Gloria Lee, faces arson charges on allegations that she tried to burn down her shop with the dogs inside. No puppies were injured.

Donald Thompson, her estranged husband, unsuccessfully tried to claim the puppies. He intended for the animal rescue group A Home 4 Spot to adopt the puppies.

Jimmy Howard, an attorney for A Home 4 Spot, spoke for Thompson at the commission meeting. He said the rescue operation was the better route, as it has a program that first puts the puppies into a vetted foster home before making sure an owner is the right match, with visits to the residence.

“With all due respect, that’s in the best interest of the dog — not to raffle the dog off,” he said.

Howard said Thompson tried to call the shelter on Sunday.

Thompson said he had trouble navigating the shelter when he called it.

“They kind of gave me the runaround,” he said at the meeting.

“I left a message and they told me to call animal control,” he added.

He declined to comment afterward.

Deputy District Attorney Steven Sweikert said at the Tuesday meeting the office had received Thompson’s claim, though officials downplayed his minority interest in the company.

County officials did acknowledge that there are unanswered questions about the ownership of the canines.

For example, the Clark County Fire Department obtained boxes of paperwork as part of its investigation into the suspected arson, but it’s unknown if any helpful information is within those documents.

But after the meeting, The Animal Foundation put out its release on the raffle, after first waiting for the blessing of the district attorney’s office.

County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said it’s important to move forward, noting that there’s been no proof of where the animals came from.

She said the issue of ownership is “moot at this point.” So far, the puppies have been with the shelter for 36 days and the shelter, which the county contracts with for animal care, is authorized to adopt out pets, she said.

Giunchigliani said there are plenty of other pets available.

“There’s hundreds more animals available for adoption in addition to these 27,” she said. “It’s not just about these 27.”

County legal counsel Mary-Anne Miller also downplayed Thompson’s minority interest in the company.

“That does not in and of itself establish that he has a right to make decisions on behalf of that LLC,” she said, referring to the limited liability company.

The district attorney’s office on Thursday served a 72-hour notice about the puppies for claims of ownership to Thompson and Lee, who is in jail awaiting trial.

Thompson also hasn’t paid the impound fees, though he did pay a $270 fee to hold the puppies for a day.

Robinson told reporters after the meeting that the applicants will still have to go through the same in-person screening required for any pet adoption. The shelter, as with any case, will determine if a household is suitable for pet adoption.

If a ticket purchaser doesn’t win the raffle, they can use their receipt to adopt an animal at the foundation’s Campus Adoption Center or PetSmart Charities Everyday Adoption Center.

There is no limit on raffle ticket purchases. However, each household is limited to winning just one of the 27 dogs. There will be no refunds.

Receipts will be valid through Dec. 31. The start time for the online raffle is to be announced later this week, with ticket purchases starting Friday at animalfoundation.com. All proceeds will go to The Animal Foundation.

Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.

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