Apache dog lover overwhelmed, fails to properly care for animals

Apache_An Apache man says he's a dog lover.  That's the reason he picks up strays, but, he admits it has gotten out of hand in the past three months.  Many of his adopted dogs are living in an abandoned building in the middle of town.  The building is littered with feces, urine, can lids, and other garbage.  Kerwin Kardokus owns the building and is feeding and housing the dogs - and he is the town's court clerk.

A viewer called 7News about the living conditions of the animals.  That was after she investigated barking dogs during the recent annual Rattlesnake Festival.  She said she walked by the building, and heard dogs barking.  She looked through a broken window and couldn't believe what she saw - so she asked us to have a closer look.

Although the dogs appear to be healthy, their living conditions most certainly aren't.  Kardokus owns the building and allowed 7News to ask him some questions.  He says the dogs have lived in the building for the last few months.  Reporter Lindsay Vocht pointed out to him that there was not even a dog bowl - just food thrown on the floor.

Neighbors say they've never seen the dogs outdoors getting fresh air and exercise.  They say the animals are constantly cooped up.  "It's not like I'm a terrible person," said Kardokus.  "But, I have to agree that I've let this get out of hand."  The building is in the same area as the Municipal Building - where Kardokus' office is - and the police station.

Police Chief Thomas Hathorn says he didn't know anything about the dogs' living conditions until last week, and since he says they don't patrol the area where the dilapidated building stands, no one heard the dogs barking.  "We don't go that way, we stay this way," he said.  Hathorn had no additional comments, except to say that they would be investigating.

Animal Control Officer Mike Love says he knew nothing about the living conditions for the dogs until 7News arrived.  "There wasn't any over there rattlesnake weekend," he said.  But, Kardukos tells the story differently.  "The city council knows this, and the animal control officer knows this," he said.  "I have been trying to work through it, and the animal control officer knows that."

Although it's clear someone isn't being truthful, Kardokus says he's willing to clean up his act.  "I apologize to those persons who are concerned about it," he said.  He says he will be taking the dogs to the vet, and he plans to clean these dogs up and find suitable homes for them, along with other animals he has in town.

Kardokus says he works with a rescue service out of Fletcher.  You can count on 7News to follow up and make sure he keeps his word.