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Mesa shelter owner facing 117 counts of animal cruelty

Posted at 3:56 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 22:06:21-04

MESA, AZ — The owner of a Mesa animal shelter is now facing 117 charges related to animal cruelty.

Domenic Anthony Asprella ran Shelter Paws near the Loop 202 and Main Street in Mesa until it was shut down in 2018 and just more than 50 dogs were seized.

Investigators said the animals were living in dirty conditions, many of them malnourished. Several animals did not survive because of the extreme neglect, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said Thursday. The surviving dogs were moved to the agency's MASH unit for continued care.

According to MCSO, 47 of the dogs were able to be rehabilitated and 45 are still being treated at the MCSO MASH facility.

Sheriff Penzone called the case one of the most egregious cases of animal cruelty ever seen in the county.

The photo above shows two of the animals who are recovering well but still living in the MASH unit where inmates interact with, care for and train the dogs.

Many animal activists criticized the length of time it took MCSO to act on the case, but Penzone says it was a lengthy process to ensure evidence was collected in order to provide a strong prosecution.

Asprella now faces 117 charges in this case, and was served on July 15.

Breaking down the 117 counts:

1 Fraudulent scheme felony
11 animal cruelty and intention mistreatment
53 cruelty to animals
52 failure to provide medical treatment