A mother and son from Rancho Santa Margarita head to court Tuesday on charges of abusing and abandoning 30 dogs in a Laguna Hills park.
Flordeliza Aguillo Escano, 59, faces one misdemeanor count each of animal abandonment, animal mistreatment and animal neglect. If convicted, she faces a maximum 18 months in jail and $3,000 in fines.
James Francis Alambra, 26, is charged with one misdemeanor count each of animal abandonment and animal mistreatment. If convicted, he faces one year in jail and $2,000 in fines.
Both defendants are set to be arraigned in Newport Beach on Tuesday.
According to the district attorney, on the afternoon of May 20, Escano and her son, Alambra, are accused of driving a truck into the parking lot of San Remo Park in Laguna Hills. They are accused of unloading two crates from the parked truck, one containing 14 dogs and another containing 16 dogs. The defendants are accused of cramming the crates so tightly that the dogs were stacked atop one another without food or water.
The defendants are accused of placing the crates next to trees near the road and abandoning them. The defendants' truck wouldn’t start, so they are accused of leaving the scene after being picked up by a woman in another vehicle, who was unaware of the animal abandonment, leaving their truck behind.
Park visitors found the abandoned crates and contacted the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The recovered dogs showed signs of neglect, including matted fur and ingrown toenails.
Alambra contacted authorities after the story made headlines. He told police he was trying to save the dogs by removing them from the home of his mother, who he said was a hoarder, when his Toyota 4Runner broke down.
At the time, director of OC Animal Care Ryan Drabek said the dogs were in decent condition: “They are pretty good, considering. There were some with pretty severely matted hair and a couple with minor abrasions, but we have not had to do significant medical treatment.”