Allegations of animal cruelty levied against the woman who ran San Diego County’s only boxer rescue are completely unfounded and untrue, according to her attorney.
Friends of Alice Via showed up outside the downtown courthouse Thursday with their dogs to support the Lakeside resident who faces misdemeanor charges for failing to properly care for more than 60 rescued dogs at her home.
Via rescued the animals from adverse conditions and boarded several animals for military personnel who are currently serving overseas, said her attorney Chris Morris.
“She cared for these animals like her own, like her children,” Morris said.
However in March 2010, San Diego County Animal Services raided Via’s property, acting on a tip from a woman who visited the home to adopt one of Via’s dogs.
The woman reported "horrific conditions" according to county officials.
When county officials arrived at the home on March 10, they found 60 dogs living in a two room home, kept in crates nearly 23 hours a day.
Many of the animals suffered skin and upper respiratory infections and scraped paws from trying to dig out of their crates, county officials said.
Via was taken into custody and charged with animal neglect.
After her arraignment , Via’s attorney said the raid happened at 7 a.m., before his client’s morning routine of feeding and exercising the dogs had begun.
As for the dogs’ condition, Morris said animals come to animal rescue to be rescued. “Some of these animals have been freshly rescued so they’re not in the best conditions,” he said.
Charlene Morgan who adopted her dog Emmy from the boxer rescue said that Via took the unwanted dogs the animal shelter won’t take and found them homes.
“Alice has always been in it for the dogs and only for the dogs,” Morgan said. “She’s a saint in our book.”
Adele Hall met Via 15 years ago. She’s adopted two dogs from Via and has spent time visiting the home raided by county officials.
“The only [dogs] that are skinny are the ones she just got, that were abused,” Hall said.
“The whole thing is just a sham. It’s just ridiculous,” she said.
In the raid, four of Via’s personal animals were also seized. Three of the four were returned to her. One of the animals died in the shelter.
As for the other dogs seized in the raid, the county is working to determine which animals were being boarded and which were rescue animals.
Via’s attorney said his client’s labor of love – running an animal rescue for 17 years – has quickly become a big mistake.
“This is a woman who has dedicated her life to saving animals. She thought she was doing something for her community,” Morris said.
The judge set a trial date for August 16.