ANGELS CAMP, Calif. – The owner of a Northern California pet boarding business faces multiple charges after allegedly killing a customer's dogs, according to KTXL-TV.
On July 4, a man reported to police that his three dogs were killed after he dropped them off at Pet Bath House in Angels Camp.
The dogs and their owner were among 475 families who lost their homes in the massive Butte Wildfire two years ago. Police say the man was boarding his pit bulls while looking for a permanent home for them.
The dogs lived at the Pet Bath House for 18 months, and the man paid for the dogs' stay in advance.
Hughes allegedly told the owner his dogs had gotten into a fight and she was hurt trying to break it up. Police said Hughes never reported the incident to Calaveras County Animal Services and had the owner pay for the damages.
Days later, according to police, Hughes called the owner again to tell him the dogs had been put down. Police arrested Hughes on Saturday after she was accused of putting the dogs down illegally, but the bodies of the dogs haven't been found, as of Tuesday evening.
“She doesn’t know how to treat animals. She really doesn’t,” David Crowe, Hughes’ next door neighbor, told KTXL. “I would be crushed. I feel horrible for the family that lost their dogs.”
Pet Bath House averages two and a half stars on Yelp, with several posts accusing Hughes and her staff of mistreating their animals.
Others say Hughes could not have done anything malicious to the animals.
“She takes really good care of my dog. I got an Australian Shepard she just took care of two days ago,” one customer told KTXL. “She’s great.”
Angels Camp police believe Hughes may have had a neighbor and former employee of Pet Bath House, 60-year-old Patti Guy, “take care of them.” Investigators are currently trying to locate Guy.
Hughes faces charges of animal cruelty, animal neglect, theft of an animal and conspiracy.