DuPAGE COUNTY, Ill. – Authorities announced Friday the owner of a suburban kennel where nearly 30 dogs died in a 2019 fire was found guilty of animal cruelty.
Garrett Mercado, 32, of Woodridge, was found guilty of three counts of animal cruelty and six counts of violation of owner’s duties, according to the DuPage County State’s Attorney.
The charges stem from an early morning fire at kennel in January of 2019 that claimed the lives of 29 dogs.
Mercado, who owned Bully Life Animal Services, formally called D&D Kennels, lived above the kennel in the 2N100 block of North County Farm Road. He was not home at the time of the fire on Jan. 14, police said.
The state’s attorney said investigators found stacked in cages without adequate water or food at the kennel and some dogs were tethered in a manner restricting their movement.
The state’s attorney said the investigation also found the dogs died a result of Mercado’ leaving the kennel for approximately five hours, at which time a fire broke out.
Investigators also determined numerous dogs were mistreated suffering puncture wounds, lacerations, abrasions, weight loss, muscle wasting and dehydration.
“The fire that raged through the kennel that morning during Mr. Mercado’s five-hour absence and resulted in the death of twenty-nine dogs left in his care is a heartbreaking tragedy for not only the owners of those dogs that perished, but also for the entire community,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a statement.
In response to the fire, Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation in 2019 that requires kennels in Illinois to always be staffed and have sprinklers or alarms that ring at the local firehouse.
Garret is due in court on Oct. 22 for sentencing.