Alice Via, now in her sixties, had been operating a do-it-yourself dog rescue since 1994. It took bloody long enough, but finally, in March 2010, the police raided her home in Lakeside near San Diego and confiscated 63 ill-cared-for boxers, chihuahuas, and terriers.
Her unlawful "kennel" was unliscensed and the dogs were kept in conditions of abject filth. She was charged with keeping animals in unsanitary conditions, failure to treat contagious diseases, failure to properly care for animals, six misdemeanor counts in all.
Each count carries the possibility of six months in jail, though realistically that just doesn't happen. The prosecutor's office did want to charge her with felony animal neglect but her lack of criminal record in the past did not permit the harshest charges, even though the condition of the animals did.
Housed in filthy three-by-two-foot crates stacked two and three high throughout her 750 square foot home, Via insisted the animals loved their crates as "happy places," as Via called the tiny dirty prisons.
One of the recurring factors in these fraud-rescuers' mentality is they never admit even the sickest most filth-coated animal was ever maltreated, a form of malignant narcisism that does not permit confession of harmfulness. Rather, such monsters frequently view themselves as saviors of the very animals whose lives they so blithely harm.
Thus the deluded Via insisted it was her "passion and honor" to take perfect care of these animals, and they only became desparately ill after being removed from her ideal care.
John Carter, deputy director of San Diego County Animal Services, said the dogs suffered from many ailments, including mange, malnutrition, dehydration, life-threatening "bloat," and lack of socialization.
Animal Control Officer Mitchell Levy added that "A lot of them had no water. A lot of them had feces and old vomit on them. It's just sad."
An equally alarmed Dan DeSousa, director of Animal Services, further noted, "Many of the dogs have skin conditions, upper respiratory disease, and other illnesses. Most have injuries to their feet and noses from trying to escape their crates. It's not the life for an animal."
Via claimed that she exercised the dogs two times a day for an hour each time, a practical impossibility given the conditions she provided. The dogs lived in the crates at least 23 hours a day, though more likely weeks on end. One had atrophied legs, indicating it had never been out of its crate at all.
Many of the dogs in her so-called "shelter" had come to her through Animal Control itself, which counted on her to take 30 to 40 dogs a year off their hands. She said nobody ever asked her how many dogs she already had, they just kept offering her more.
So while her behavior makes her a very great villain, and her refusal to admit wrongdoing makes her unforgiveable, she is also clearly mentally ill, and the whole animal welfare system has to be broken never to have realized who they so eagerly dealt with, and what kind of conditions these were to which they were abandoning needful animals.
So yes, her hording disorder was facilitated by a broken system. And lest you think this is a rare situation, it's actually common as dirt, and very frequently there is no distinction between "rescue" shelters and puppy mills and crazy old ladies with a hundred cats or dogs crowded into a feces-coated shack. In this case, the "community" of shelter activists, as usual, claimed to be shocked by the revelations of such poor care, as Via "had a good reputation."
It was expected that the boxers and chihuahuas, after treatment of their illnesses and socialization issues and resolution of the case against Via, would all find good homes eventually.
Meanwhile at her nightmarish Boxer Rescue of San Diego website, Via continues to rail that all the dogs' health issues were induced by the care they received at the three shelters that received her dogs. She insists with manic high dudgeon that the shelters are intentionally starving the dogs to death and that is the only reason photos of skeletal boxers were seen by the public.
Truly a vile, sick woman with no intention of admitting her behavior or changing it if in the future animals are ever entrusted to her again. She is even now seeking donations to continue her madness, which is typical of horders who pose as rescuers, who can change their behavior no more than can a child molester.