ARIZONA NEWS

Patriots player dedicates Super Bowl to lost dogs

Jan 28, 2015, 7:06 PM | Updated: 7:06 pm

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PHOENIX — After the loss of his four dogs, Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch has dedicated his first Super Bowl appearance to them.

Branch lost his pups, Tonka, Buick, Francis and Snickers, in a tragic accident at Green Acre Cage Free Dog Boarding last June.

“It was definitely rough,” Branch said in an interview to the Boston Globe Wednesday. “I’m bouncing back slowly but surely from the loss. I just tried to be a rock for my family.”

Green Acres, once known as “Doggy Dayland,” now houses the memories of the 20-plus dogs who lost their lives there last summer.

Owners Todd and Maleisa Hughes were out of town and left daughter Logan and her husband, Austin Flake, son of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), in charge of the dogs. When the Hughes came back from vacation, 23 out of 28 dogs were dead.

While the Hughes have given varied accounts about what had happened, including a dog who bit through an air conditioning wire, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office determined the dogs most likely suffocated to death.

Last October, both of the Hughes were charged with 22 felony counts, seven misdemeanor accounts of cruelty to animals and one felony count of fraud. The Flakes were charged with 21 felony counts and seven misdemeanor accounts of cruelty to animals. With the exception of the felony count of fraud, the charges against the Hughes were dropped in December 2014.

Branch began his career with the Arizona Cardinals and resides here during the off-season. After reviewing several positive Yelp reviews and touring the property, he decided to put his dogs in the facility.

“We found them, I believe, on Yelp, and they had some really good reviews,” Branch said. “We went to their house and everything. We saw that they had over an acre of property, and the dogs could run and do whatever. It looked better than just boarding them up in a random place.”

Even though Branch said he and his family are planning on expanding their doggy family again, it will not be easy.

“I just want justice,” Branch said. “And if anything, for Arizona to have stricter laws on what can be considered a boarding facility.”

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Patriots player dedicates Super Bowl to lost dogs