CHICAGO (CBS) — The DuPage County State’s Attorney said charges have been filed in connection with a kennel fire where more than two dozen dogs were found dead.

State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said Garrett Mercado was charged with 28 misdemeanor counts including 14 of animal cruelty and 14 of violation of owner’s duties.

The fire broke out in the early morning hours January 14 at Bully Life Animal Services at N. County Farm Road in unincorporated DuPage County.

State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said a DuPage County Sherrif’s deputy, who was on patrol during the early morning hours, saw the blaze and called for the fire department.

“These dogs lived in cruel and inhumane conditions and they died a horrible death,” Berlin said.

He said 22 dogs were saved and 29 dogs died as a result of the fire. Several other dogs were noted as missing or their bodies could not be recovered.

“The fire was so intense that it burned through a staircase, rendering the staircase unusable and burned a large hole of the floor of the second story where Garrett Mercado kept an apartment,” Berlin said, who added that Mercado was not home at the time of the fire.

Records show the kennel was subject to an investigation regarding overcrowding and mistreatment of animals.

“These dogs were in crates that were stacked on top of each other. These crates were not made for long term use. Many of the crates did not have trays so that the dogs on the top half when they would urinate or defecate they would urinate of defecate on the dogs below them,” Berlin said.

The kennel’s license was up to date and had passed its fire inspection. There was no state regulation that the dogs be supervised overnight.

Berlin said there was no evidence to suggest the fire was intentionally. The facility originally operated as D&D Kennels, but at the time of fire, that business was defunct. It was known as Bully Life Animal Services when the fire occurred. The property was being leased by the business.

If convicted, Mercado could face up to a year in jail.

 

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