Mesa animal shelter misused funds and neglected animals, lawsuit alleges

The Schill Law Group filed a lawsuit against Domenic Anthony Asprella and Shelter Paws LLC, claiming that donations received by Asprella and the shelter for the care and maintenance of animals housed there were misused and animals were not cared for, according to a press release from the law firm.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, is the latest development from the October incident at the Shelter Paws animal shelter in Mesa where Maricopa County sheriff’s detectives removed 53 dogs after authorities found the animals in various states of neglect.

Detectives said they found the dogs in cages with feces, and one dog died after it was transported to a local emergency veterinarian.

The lawsuit, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, lists Laura Zundel, owner of one of the dogs that was seized, as one of the plaintiffs in the suit along with two other plaintiffs.

In a protest on Oct. 20 outside the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in downtown Phoenix, Zundel said she had not received any information about the status or condition of her dog from the Sheriff’s Office since detectives removed the animals from the shelter.

The lawsuit names two other defendants, Benito Asprella and Angella Asprella, and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is named as a real party of interest as they are currently in possession of the animals that are the subject of the suit.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is housing the animals, which are considered evidence, in the MCSO Animal Safe Haven unit.

In a press conference on Oct. 30, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said the Sheriff’s Office is still assessing whether any crimes took place at the animal shelter and if any charges should be recommended in the case.

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