Friday, March 7, 2014 | 2 a.m.
They’re known as the “Arson Puppies.”
Tickets for the puppy raffle will be sold for $250 beginning at 3 p.m. today to March 13 at animalfoundation.com. Winners will be chosen and notified on March 14.
Interested pet owners who participate in the raffle will have to go through the Animal Foundation's screening process that includes completing an adoption application and in-person adoption process to ensure all the dogs find suitable homes.
Photos and information about the 27 dogs and puppies can be found on shelter's Facebook page.
No, they aren’t part of a trendy new rock band. It’s what people are calling 27 puppies rescued from a January pet shop fire in which two people, including the shop owner, have been charged with arson.
The Animal Foundation has been caring for the puppies since the fire, and more than 1,000 people have called about adopting them, said Meghan Scheibe, marketing and public relations manager for the nonprofit shelter.
Scheibe said she had never seen anything at the shelter like the public clamor surrounding the puppies.
The story of the pet shop fire has been making headlines as the arson case against the shop’s fuchsia-haired owner, Gloria Lee, and her alleged accomplice, Kirk Bills, moves through the criminal justice system.
And the celebrity surrounding the animals prompted the Animal Foundation to conduct an adoption raffle to find the pups new homes.
Tickets for the raffle go on sale at 3 p.m. today for $250, and the winners will be selected March 14. More information can be found on the Animal Foundation’s website.
Proceeds from the raffle will be used to pay for operating costs and care for other animals at the shelter.
“We want to allow everyone interested in adopting one of these dogs the opportunity to adopt,” Scheibe said. “A raffle process is the best way to guarantee everyone receives a chance.”
The raffle, however, isn’t sitting well with some animal activists.
Nevada Voters for Animals and No Kill Las Vegas conducted a press conference decrying the raffle Wednesday on the Regional Justice Center steps, with some people holding signs with phrases such as “Puppies Are Not Prizes.”
The raffle has Gina Greisen, president of Nevada Voters for Animals, so furious she is threatening to take legal action to halt the raffle, though the group has not secured a lawyer.
The group held another rally, this one outside the Animal Foundation, Thursday in opposition of the raffle.
“We’re either going to fight it in the legal courts or we’re going to fight it in the court of public opinion," Greisen said. “This is wrong, and they know it.”
Greisen said the raffle treats the puppies as prizes, sought after because of the cachet associated with owning an “Arson Puppy.”
“It’s sad because these are almost like the children of celebrities,” Greisen said. “Every child deserves attention.”
She also disagrees with the Animal Foundation's position that the raffle is the fairest way to find homes for the animals. “How many people have money to gamble on getting one of the ‘Arson Puppies?’” Greisen said.
Scheibe said the $250 raffle fee essentially covers the normal cost of adopting a dog and includes things such as spaying or neutering and microchipping. Raffle ticket holders who do not win one of the dogs from the pet store fire will have the opportunity to adopt another animal.
“We’re trying to find homes for as many animals as possible,” Scheibe said. “A lot of the animals come from equally heartbreaking situations.”
The Animal Foundation is taking steps to ensure those entering the raffle understand a pet is a serious commitment, Scheibe said. Raffle winners must meet all requirements for a standard pet adoption, including pre-adoption counseling, and must agree not to sell the puppies.
Nevada Political Action for Animals, another group that has been following the puppies’ case, has not opposed the raffle.
“Our biggest concern is we don’t want to turn this into a circus,” said Stacia Newman, president of Nevada Political Action for Animals. “It’s not even about the puppies anymore.”
Newman said her group felt comfortable with the raffle because she had confirmed potential adopters would be screened.
“The intent is, even though the 27 puppies are out there in the limelight, hopefully other puppies will get adopted as a result,” Newman said. “If some other puppies can get adopted, that’s what it is really all about.”