Animal-rescue operator found guilty of animal cruelty

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PHOENIX -- A Maricopa County Superior Court judge has found the operator of a Phoenix animal-rescue shelter guilty on nine counts of animal cruelty.

Diane Habener was arrested in November 2009 after investigators found dozens of dogs and cats living in deplorable conditions at two Phoenix locations.

Sheriff's deputies found that the animals were without food and water and were living in excrement. Many were caged in kennels too small to even allow any real movement by the animal.

"It appears as though Ms. Habener got in way over her head by taking in too many animals," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said at the time of her arrest. "She did not provide the proper care needed to safely and humanely house these animals."

Judge Janet Barton found Habener guilty on nine misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and not guilty on seven others at a non-jury trial.

Habener faces possible jail time, a fine and probation when she's sentenced April 15.

Habener started Tuffies Animal Rescue in 2004.