PHOENIX — News that AZ Dog Adoptions founder Angi Hopson is facing 80 counts of animal cruelty-related charges came as no surprise to Ashley Villone. She's been inside the rescue's Phoenix facility.
"It was heartbreaking. There was fecal matter and pee all over the floor," said Villone.
Villone said she adopted their dog 'Biggie' from the rescue at its 19th Avenue and I-17 facility three years ago. And from day one she says she had nothing but medical issues before they were forced to put him down.
"We spent upwards of $10,000 trying to save this dog for a year," she said.
Police raided the rescue last December, taking 45 cats and dogs. Then again in April they seized another dog.
"There was a dog who was severely matted to the point of having maggots, flies, and feces encrusted into the fur," said Bretta Nelson, spokesperson for the Arizona Humane Society.
Nelson says most of the seized animals were treated and adopted out. However, some were unable to be saved. But the process is lengthy, which is part of the reason charges weren't filed immediately.
"In cases where you have this many animals our vets go through and do the medical examinations on every animal. Then we start treating those animals and have to write up medical reports on every animal, then hand over the information to Phoenix Police," Nelson said.
In Arizona, animal rescues are not regulated. Operators of the facilities are only required to have a business license. Authorities depend on the public to report anything suspicious. Furthermore, animal cruelty in Arizona is only a misdemeanor offense. However,
in May Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law making animal cruelty a felony. It goes into effect in August.
We tried to call Hopson. She did not answer and did not respond to a text message. We also drove by the rescue. There was no one there and the building is up for lease. According to records filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission, Hopson is still listed as a director for AZ Dog Adoptions.