Maggie, Sheba and Hank -- the three dogs who were with Grant Kuenzli when he was shot and killed -- have been released by the Coconino County Attorney's Office and have been placed in new homes, according to a reliable source.
While neither Coconino County Attorney Roberta McVickers nor Arizona Animal Defense League of Arizona (ADLA) lawyer Stephanie Nichols-Young would return repeated phone calls, the Roundup has learned that Nichols-Young drafted the agreement that allowed the dogs to be placed in permanent homes. The agreement stipulates that the dogs be made available in the event they are needed for the second-degree murder trial of Harold Fish, the Valley man accused of gunning Kuenzli down May 11 when the dogs allegedly charged him at a remote trailhead south of Clint's Well.
Dennis Pugh, executive director of the Coconino County Humane Association, said he was told by McVickers not to talk about the dogs, but did say he was happy they had been released. The dogs went to the homes of three Payson residents, chosen from among many locals who volunteered to adopt the animals following the tragedy.
Maggie, a yellow Lab mix, was Kuenzli's own dog, while Sheba, a German shepherd mix, and Hank, a chow mix, were Payson Humane Society dogs that Kuenzli had taken to his campsite for an overnight visit. The three dogs were taken from the scene by a Coconino County animal control officer and housed in separate cages at a Flagstaff animal shelter. A group of Payson-area dog lovers organized to try and save the dogs and visited them on a regular basis.
Although he was unmarked and uninjured, Fish claimed that he was acting in self defense after Kuenzli threatened to kill him.
There was concern that a judge could determine the dogs dangerous based on Fish's allegations and order them euthanized.
The names of the dogs' new owners are being withheld to protect the animals, but Maggie, Kuenzli's dog, was adopted by a couple in Strawberry, according to John McCauley, a close friend of Kuenzli's, who has followed developments in the case closely.
"I think it's fantastic," McCauley said of the dogs' release and adoption, "especially since they went to good homes, and they were checked out carefully by the (ADLA)."
Fish, who remains free, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second degree murder.
A hearing scheduled for Monday in Coconino County Superior Court to determine release conditions was postponed until Sept. 27.