Kennel operator convicted in 2019 fire that killed 29 dogs


WHEATON, Ill. (AP) – The operator of a Chicago suburban kennel where 29 dogs were killed in a fire in 2019 has been convicted of animal cruelty and violation of owner’s duties.

After a five-day trial, a DuPage County judge found Garrett Mercado, 32, guilty on Friday of three counts of animal cruelty and six counts of violating owner’s duties, the Daily Herald reported.

All of the charges he has been found guilty of are misdemeanors. Mercado will be sentenced on October 22.

“Judge Miller’s ruling confirms what we’ve said all along, that Garrett Mercado has completely ignored the health and safety of many dogs in his care,” said DuPage County District Attorney Robert Berlin. , in a statement after Friday’s verdict.

Prosecutors said Mercado left the Bully Life Animal Services kennel in DuPage County just outside West Chicago unattended for about five hours on January 14, 2019. While he was away, a fire broke out in the kennel, killing 29 dogs, which were trapped in cages in a small two-story building.

Mercado initially faced more than two dozen charges, but prosecutors dropped three counts last Monday and he was acquitted of six counts Thursday and 10 counts Friday.

The kennel fire led Illinois lawmakers to approve new legislation that requires state kennels to always be staffed and have sprinklers or alarms that sound at the local fire station.

Governor JB Pritzker enacted this legislation in August 2019.

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