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Ex-kennel operator sentenced after 29 dogs killed in fire

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WHEATON, Ill. — The operator of a suburban Chicago kennel where 29 dogs were killed in a fire will spend 20 days in a county jail.

Garrett Mercado’s sentence was announced Tuesday by DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin.

Berlin’s office had sought a sentence of 180 days in jail.

Mercado, 32, also was sentenced to two years probation followed by four years of conditional discharge during which time he will only be allowed to own one dog.

He was found guilty last month of animal cruelty and violation of owner’s duties.

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

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

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed that legislation into law in August 2019.

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