Phoenix man disagrees with hoarding allegations against his mother after more than 30 dogs die in fire

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The woman who died in a house fire over the weekend was a well-known dog breeder in the Valley. Now she is charged with neglect after Phoenix police say around 37 dogs were found in the home. Thirty-one dogs died in the fire and the six that survived are now part of the Arizona Humane Society’s trauma team.

“Our priority right now is to make sure these animals are medically treated,” says Kelsey Dickerson of the Humane Society. “Maybe they came from hoarding conditions.”

The dog’s owner, 86-year-old Marilyn Pauley, who has been a kennel owner and breeder of dogs for decades, is charged with negligence. “There are white dogs that have turned yellow from being covered in feces and urine. They’re matted, they’re underweight. They’re infested with ticks. So I think you can make your own conclusions,” Dickerson said.

But Marilyn’s son, Evan Pauley, says that’s not true. “My mother died trying to save these dogs. The words she gave her rescuers as they tried to drag her out of the house were “leave me, save the dogs,” Pauley said.

Pauley says her mother was licensed to own up to 60 dogs and was known and respected in the dog show community. He says many of his dogs have won national titles. “I can guarantee you that she didn’t store animals. She was doing what she had been doing successfully for many years,” Pauley said. “The Humane Society has been after my mother for several years now. The Humane Society does not like reputable breeders,” he added.

One of Marilyn’s colleagues at the Valley of the Sun Poodle Club says she was known to have taken good care of her dogs and sold the newest one just two days before the fire.

When animal rescue arrived on the scene, seven dogs were alive. Unfortunately, another dog has died and one remains in critical condition. “In the state of Arizona, by law, you must provide your pets with shelter, food, and water. So if you see something, say something. An operation, let her whether legal or not, can still be a bit dodgy,” Dickerson said.

Pauley says he fights to have his mother remembered as a loving and courageous dog owner, not a hoarder. “I will miss my mother,” he said.