Animal advocates are fighting a Las Vegas animal shelter’s decision to auction off puppies saved from a burning pet store after an Indiana man and the store’s owner allegedly set the building ablaze earlier this year.
Prosecutors allege Kirk Bills, 27, of Crown Point, Ind., and Lee’s Prince and Princess pet store owner Gloria Eun Hye Lee, 35, torched the building with 27 puppies inside on Jan. 27.
Fire rescuers managed to save the 27 puppies trapped inside the store.
Bills, who was arrested in Indiana, and Lee were allegedly captured on security cameras and face felony and misdemeanor arson, conspiracy, burglary and attempted animal cruelty charges. Lee’s attorney has said she will fight the charges.
Following the blaze, the rescued puppies were placed into the custody of The Animal Foundation shelter, which plans to use an online raffle to find homes for the animals.
“We have received thousands of inquiries from animal lovers interested in adopting, and believe that an online raffle is the best way to allow all interested adopters a fair chance at opening their hearts and homes to one of the dogs,” the shelter posted on Facebook.
Animal advocates claim the tactic puts profits before the care and future of the animals.
“Even though the Foundation’s 2012 tax return showed over $3.5 million in savings, they are still choosing to cash in on the puppies misfortune,” Bryce Henderson, co-founder of No Kill Las Vegas, said in a statement. “These poor puppies have been through enough and don’t deserve to be exploited for financial gain.”
Supporters were scheduled to hold a "Rally to Stop the Raffle" outside The Animal Foundation Thursday.
One area shelter, which attempted to bring the puppies into their rescue after they were contacted by Lee and her husband, said the news was “unfortunate.”
“All we can do is pray that AF decides against the raffle idea and allows any rescue to conduct proper home checks with a say of where the puppies go to,” the shelter posted on Facebook. “We have always been partners with AF and will continue to do so but we will not always agree with their plans.”
Raffle tickets are set to go on sale Friday for $250, the equivalent of an adoption fee for each dog. Those who do not win the raffle can exchange their ticket for the adoption of any animal at Animal Foundation adoption centers through Dec. 31.
As part of the raffle process, interested adopters will be required to complete an initial adoption application when purchasing raffle tickets. Winners, once selected, will also be required to complete an in-person adoption screening.
The Animal Foundation said the can deny adoptions to raffle participants who do not meet all adoption requirements or in the instance that the placement is not in the best interest of the pet.
“We understand that not everyone agrees with our decision to find the dogs loving homes through a raffle, and want to stress that The Animal Foundation is determined to find incredible forever homes for each dog from the fire, just as we work to find suitable homes for more than 10,000 pets each year,” the shelter posted.