The owner of a suburban kennel has been found guilty of animal cruelty and violation of owner's duties in connection with a fire that killed 29 dogs in 2019.
Garrett Mercado, operator of the former D and D Kennel, was found guilty on three counts of animal cruelty and six counts of violation of owner's duties following a five-day bench trial before Judge Robert Miller, according to the DuPage County Prosecutor's Office.
Authorities allege that the kennel, located in unincorporated DuPage County, was operating under dangerous and filthy conditions, and that the owner had no fire prevention measures in place. An indictment also alleged that crates of dogs were stacked on top of one another on the day of the fatal fire.
Mercado lived in the building where the kennel was housed, but was not home when the fire broke out. He returned while the fire was going on, and at the time he told NBC 5 that he “rushed in to try to put it out.”
Numerous dogs were mistreated suffering puncture wounds, lacerations, abrasions, weight loss, muscle wasting and dehydration, according to prosecutors.
"Judge Miller’s ruling verifies what we have said all along, that Garrett Mercado completely disregarded the health and safety of numerous dogs in his care,” Berlin said in a news release.
Mercado's sentencing has been scheduled for Oct. 22.