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Crime & Courts

Woodridge man faces charges stemming from kennel fire that claimed the lives of 29 dogs

Garrett Mercado
Garrett Mercado

A Woodridge man is facing more than two dozen misdemeanor charges stemming from a fire at a Carol Stream kennel he operated that claimed the lives of 29 dogs.

Bond was set July 10 at $50,000 for Garrett Mercado, 29, of the 2300 block of Cambridge Lane.

Mercado operated the former D and D Kennel located at 2N441 North County Farm Road. He has been charged with 14 counts of animal cruelty and 14 counts of violation of owner’s duties, according to a news release from the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Garret was taken into custody July 10. He posted the necessary 10%, or $5,000, and was released from custody.

About 5:20 a.m. Jan. 12, a DuPage County Sheriff’s deputy observed the kennel on fire. An investigation into the fire conducted by the DuPage County Fire Investigative Task Force found the cause of the fire to be undetermined, according to the release.

After an investigation revealed that 29 dogs died in the blaze, it is alleged that numerous other dogs were mistreated, suffering puncture wounds, lacerations, abrasions, weight loss, muscle wasting and dehydration, the release stated. Additionally, there was a foul odor throughout the facility and urine stains, fresh and old feces and empty water bowls found in the kennel, according to the release.

The kennel runs were not sanitary, and dogs were kept in cages stacked upon one another. Additionally, dogs were placed in cages or crates too small for them, dogs were inappropriately tethered and one dog was tethered to a bar in a bathtub in a fashion that would restrict or prevent movement, according to the release. Mercado allegedly abandoned the dogs at which time a fire erupted resulting in the dogs’ deaths, according to the release.

“What happened in the early morning hours of January 14 is heart-breaking,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in the release. “It is alleged that Mercado’s disregard for the health and safety of nearly sixty dogs in his care resulted in the death of 29 of those dogs when a fire engulfed the D and D Kennel.”

“I’m truly saddened to see any dogs be treated in this manner,” DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick said. “Many times, animals have no advocates. They can’t report a crime committed against them or tell someone that they’re being mistreated. That’s why it’s so important for public safety to step up as the guardian for those pets and animals that are being abused or neglected.

“This situation also created an environment where one of our deputies had to risk his life by running into a burning building to save as many dogs as he could. This never should have happened. We depend on our various pets and animals to give us comfort every day, and with that being said, we owe them proper care and treatment in return.”

Mercado’s next court date is scheduled for Aug. 12 in front of Judge Brian Jacobs.

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