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Couple pleads guilty in Phoenix-area dog boarding case that killed 23 dogs

PHOENIX — A couple pleaded guilty Thursday to being responsible for the deaths of 23 dogs inside of a Phoenix-area kennel.

Under the plea deal, Jesse and Maleisa Hughes will serve 23 days in jail and three years of probation. They will also be required to perform 230 hours of community service — possibly with Maricopa County Animal Control — and write and read aloud an apology letter.

The Hughes will also not be allowed to own or care for animals again.

Sentencing in the case is set for Sept. 9.

The dogs died after being locked inside of a small room with no air conditioning at the Green Acres boarding facility in 2014. Authorities said the air conditioning went out after one of the dogs managed to chew through the wall and then an electrical cord.

The Hughes originally told their customers the dogs had run away. Maleisa told KTAR News’ Mac & Gaydos that was the “one mistake we’ve made” and later called the deaths a “freak accident.”

The Hughes were out of town when the incident occurred. The facility was left in the temporary care of Austin Flake, son of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Logan Flake. Charges against the Flakes were dropped in December 2014.

The charges against the Hughes were also dropped in December 2014, but were refiled in May of last year.

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