Owner of Mesa animal shelter faces 117 animal cruelty charges

In a disturbing investigation of animal cruelty, the owner of a Mesa animal shelter faces 117 animal cruelty charges where animals lived in egregious conditions; where many of them were starved and where dogs died because of extreme neglect.

Domenic Anthony Asprella operated Shelter Paws in Mesa until it was shut down in 2018 and 53 dogs were seized. According to the Facebook page, Justice for Shelter Paws 53, most of the dogs were able to be rehabilitated; 45 are still being treated at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office MASH (MCSO Animal Safe Haven (MASH) facility in downtown Phoenix for further evaluation and care. Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone called the case one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he had ever seen in the county.

Asprella’s charges, served on July 15 include the following:

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

AZFamilyNews reported the back story when MCSO received a phone call from a woman in October 2018 who reported the horrible conditions when she went to pick up her dog at the shelter. When Animal Crimes detectives arrived at the shelter to investigate, they were shocked to find dogs malnourished and living in crates amid piles of their own feces. One dog was rushed to an emergency veterinarian, but did not survive. Another dog had to be euthanized because of medical conditions, and later on, three more dogs were euthanized due to aggressive behavior.

One dog named “Jones” has never been found.

The MCSO MASH Unit cares for and rehabilitates neglected and abused animals and places them up for adoption to loving families. It also provides the opportunities for inmates to work with the animals -helping the animals as well as helping inmates to learn compassion and work skills.

Read prior coverage here.

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