Woman faces charges after Nevada animal remains found dumped in southern Utah

Apr 9, 2024, 6:31 PM

VEYO, Washington County A bizarre investigation is unfolding in southern Utah, where authorities say dozens of animal remains were discovered at two dumping sites in the desert near Veyo. The animals beloved pets belonging to families in the Las Vegas area.

McKenzie Doyle Frei, 39, of Dammeron Valley, is accused of dumping the remains in the fall of 2023, according to Sgt. Lucas Alfred of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

The dump sites

The first dump site, which contained about 25 bags of pet remains, was discovered in October by someone recreating in the area. At the time, deputies discovered some of the remains had microchips and were able to contact the owners in Las Vegas who explained that the pets were supposed to be in the care of First Call Pet Cremation. Deputies also found tags among some of the remains that provided the same information.

In January, Frei, who was contracted by First Call Pet Cremation to cremate the animals, was charged in Washington County Justice Court with public nuisance, destructive or injurious littering, and doing business without a license. But then in February, a second dump site near Veyo was discovered by a hiker who noticed a foul smell in the area.

“Everything fits the same basic layout of the others, the same type of bags and same type of ties,” Alfred said in an interview with KTNV in Las Vegas. “Exact numbers are very hard to tell with the state of decomposition of the animals because they have been here for quite some time. The best estimate that we can get is somewhere around 4o animals between the bags.”

For the past six months, KTNV investigative reporter Isabella Martin has been receiving reports from pet owners in the Las Vegas area wanting to know about the status of their pet’s cremation process. After multiple attempts at contacting Rick Senninger, the owner of First Call Pet Cremation, he finally responded to KTNV saying Frei was to blame for the backlog of pets being stored in mobile freezers and the animals dumped in Utah.

Business has closed its doors

“The public has a right to be disappointed in me. But the culprit, the one that has caused all of this, the reason there are still pets in the freezer, the reason that not everybody got answers, their pet back, is because of McKenzie Frei,” Senninger said.

KTNV is reporting that Senninger has closed the doors to First Call Pet Cremation indefinitely, leaving many Las Vegas families unsure of what happened to their beloved animals.

Back in Utah, the pet remains that were recovered near Veyo were taken to another cremation company and finally cremated. Alfred said the Sheriff’s Office covered the cost of that process, and he wants Las Vegas families to know the animal remains, in the hands of deputies, were handled with care.

Alfred said many families have reached out to the Sheriff’s Office to see if their pet’s remains are among the ones found in Utah. However, he said because of decomposition many of the remains couldn’t be identified. He said if families turned over their pets to First Call Pet Cremation between July and September of 2023, it’s likely the animal remains were recovered in Utah.

“At this point, we are hoping that everything has been found and this is going to be done,” Alfred told KTNV.

Alfred said the Washington County Attorney’s Office is now reviewing the details of the second dump site that was discovered in February and will decide if Frei’s current charges will be amended or if additional charges will be added to her case.

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Woman faces charges after Nevada animal remains found dumped in southern Utah