Phoenix man disagrees with hoarding allegations against mother after 30+ dogs die in fire

The owner of the dogs, 86-year-old Marilyn Pauley, has been a registered kennel owner and dog breeder for decades.
Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 7:21 PM MST
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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’s being blamed for neglect after Phoenix police say around 37 dogs were found in the home. Thirty-one dogs died from the fire, and the six that survived are now with the Arizona Humane Society’s trauma team.

“Our priority right now is making sure these pets are being treated medically,” says Kelsey Dickerson with the humane society. “Possibly, they might have been coming from hoarding conditions.”

The dog’s owner, 86-year-old Marilyn Pauley, who has been a registered kennel owner and dog breeder for decades, is being accused of neglect. “There are white dogs that have turned yellow from being caked in feces and urine. They’re matted, they’re underweight. They do have tick infestation. So, I think you can draw your own conclusions from that,” said Dickerson.

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

Pauley says his mom was licensed to own up to 60 dogs, and she was known and respected in the dog-show community. He says many of her dogs won national titles. “I can guarantee you she was not hoarding animals. She was doing what she had done successfully for many years,” said Pauley. “The humane society has been after my mother for a number of years now. The humane society does not like reputable breeders,” he added.

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

When animal rescue arrived on the scene, seven dogs were alive. Unfortunately, another dog has passed, and one remains in critical condition. “In the state of Arizona, legally you need to provide your pets with shelter, food, and water. So if you see something, say something. An operation, whether it’s legal or not, still may be a little bit shady,” said Dickerson.

Pauley says he’s fighting for his mom to be remembered as a loving and courageous dog owner, not a hoarder. “I’m gonna miss my mom,” he said.