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September 20, 2014

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As Arson Puppies await court outcome, Animal Foundation sees other adoptions increase

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Steve Marcus

Pug puppies look out from a kennel at the Animal Foundation Campus, 655 N. Mojave Road, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. The puppies were rescued during a fire at the Prince and Princess Pet Shop on Jan. 27.

Suspects in Pet Shop Fire Plead Not Guilty

Pet shop owner Gloria Lee appears in court at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, March 12, 2014. Lee and co-defendant Kirk Bills pleaded not guilty to charges of torching the pet shop where 27 puppies were rescued, and a judge rejected a bid for lower bail. Launch slideshow »

Rescued Puppies

Yorkshire terrier puppies look out from a kennel at the Animal Foundation Campus, 655 N. Mojave Road, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. The puppies were rescued during a fire at the Prince and Princess Pet Shop on Jan. 27. Launch slideshow »

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  • Jailhouse conversation between arson suspects Gloria Lee and Kirk Bills
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While the fate of the “Arson Puppies” is still up in the air, the dogs’ celebrity status may be helping their comrades in cages find homes.

For each dog that was rescued from a January pet shop fire, one shelter dog has found an owner — at least that’s what an uptick in adoptions at the Animal Foundation implies.

The Clark County District Attorney’s Office announced Feb. 27 that owners of the Prince and Princess Pet Shop would have 72 hours to claim the dogs, drawing additional attention and anticipation as the public clamored to adopt the dogs. Meanwhile, the Animal Foundation, which is caring for the Arson Puppies, has adopted out 27 more dogs, a 12.1 percent increase, than it did during the same time frame last year, according to the shelter’s numbers as of close of business Tuesday.

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.

The dogs are in legal limbo while Lee’s estranged husband fights in court to halt the Animal Foundation’s plans to adopt the dogs through a raffle.

Donald Thompson, Lee’s spouse and a managing partner of the Prince and Princess Pet Boutique — who is not charged in the criminal case — argues the county illegally took the animals.

Thompson wants to place the puppies at a private rescue he believes to be a better fit. A Clark County district judge has scheduled a hearing March 17 to hear arguments in the case.

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.

Lee and Bills are scheduled to stand trial July 7. Both pleaded not guilty today in Clark County District Court to charges of arson and multiple counts of attempted animal cruelty.

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