ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Frank Rich, the man accused of abusing more than 150 dogs rescued in January from an alleged puppy mill in the Mat-Su Valley, made a last-minute decision Wednesday not to change his plea to guilty, ensuring that his case on charges of animal cruelty will go to trial.
Rich had been widely expected to change his plea at Wednesday’s packed court hearing. Many people in the courtroom had adopted or worked with the dogs, which were forfeited in February after Rich appealed the initial forfeiture order from the Mat-Su Borough.
Prior to entering the courtroom, some people were wearing shirts with pictures of the forfeited dogs, and people who adopted them said they were devastated by Rich’s decision.
"I want them to understand the dogs weren’t healed when they were taken away," Alicia Don, who adopted a dog she named Birch said following the hearing.
As the people filtered out of the courtroom, many uttered angry words toward Rich.