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Animal control officers raid Calif. rescuer's home

LAKESIDE, Calif. -  A woman who "had the best of intentions" was in custody Wednesday after animal control officers seized 60 dogs in crates inside her small two-bedroom home east of San Diego.

Alice Via, 65, was arrested for investigation of animal cruelty and neglect. She ran what she called the San Diego Boxer Rescue and kept mostly boxers and Chihuahuas.

The dogs were confined in dirty cages stacked two high throughout the 750-square-foot home, said San Diego County spokesman Dan DeSousa. Most of the dogs had injuries to their feet and noses from trying to escape and some had skin and respiratory problems, he added.

"These dogs were kept in crates, from what we're being told, up to 23 hours a day," DeSousa said. Calling it appalling, he added, "It's not the life for an animal."

Via did not have a kennel license, DeSousa said, so she was limited to six dogs.

Via's Web site, with a St. Patrick's Day theme, featured mug shots of 45 dogs, including four that said they had been placed. The site also said 15 dogs were rescued in January and February and that the Web site had been updated on Monday.

Via had good intentions, DeSousa said, and the animals were well fed, although many had no water in their cages.

"She got way in over her head. She had nobody to help her," he said.

Authorities were called by a person who went to the home to check on a dog several days ago and was alarmed by the "overpowering" smell and unsanitary conditions, DeSousa said.

Via's Web site said she was a member of the Rescue Alliance of Hairless & Other Breeds Inc., a nationwide 501c3 nonprofit animal rescue organization.

That group did not immediately respond to an e-mail asking about the affiliation.


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