EL CAJON (CNS) - A Lakeside woman who failed to properly care for more than five dozen dogs at her home, where she operated a boxer-rescue organization, was sentenced Friday to three years probation and ordered to pay $8,000 in restitution to the county.
Alice Via, 62, was convicted March 1 of misdemeanor charges of having an unlawful kennel, keeping animals in unsanitary conditions, failure to treat contagious animals and two counts of failure to care for an animal.
Judge William McGrath said Via can work at a pet store, but is prohibited from participating in an animal-rescue operation while on probation, according to defense attorney Chris Morris.
The charges against Via arose after a person came to adopt a dog and notified authorities of the unsanitary conditions. More than five dozen canines were seized in a subsequent raid a year ago.
Morris said some of the dogs had just been rescued and were not in the best condition when Via got them.
Animal control officers found 63 dogs -- mostly boxers, Chihuahuas and a few small terriers -- in dirty cages stacked throughout Via's two-bedroom home, said Dan DeSousa of San Diego County Animal Services.
At the time, many of the dogs had skin conditions and other illnesses, along with injuries to their feet and noses from trying to escape from their cages, DeSousa said.
Despite the "appalling" conditions, Via apparently had the best of intentions in taking care of the canines, which were well-fed, DeSousa said.
Morris told the jury that the Department of Animal Services rarely enforces licensing laws on rescue operations.
He said the county entrapped Via by asking her to take dogs that would otherwise be killed.
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