May 24, 2011 Comments Off

Did Law Enforcement Fail the Community?

Posted in Cruelty Cases

The Mason County Sheriff’s Office continues to claim that this horse is not starving

In a bold but justifiable move, Pasado’s Safe Haven has filed a Citizen’s Complaint about an inadequate investigation filled with contradiction and conflicts of interest. In January, Pasado’s received numerous calls from an outraged community in Shelton, WA when two horses were found dead at 2620 Little Egypt Road. The Mason County Sheriff’s Office stated in a news release that the horses may have been shot. This statement was made without having proof of this accusation and despite the statement of the officer, Sergeant Severance, that there was no evidence of any gunshot wounds to either horse. The owner of the property is Greg Harris. In what seems to be a terrible conflict of interest, there is evidence suggesting that the  undersheriff is related to Harris.

Throughout the case, Animal Control and the Sheriff’s Department continuously contradicted themselves and witness statements from the community. Amidst these contradictions and conflicts of interest, two horses appear to have suffered greatly. Their bodies were contorted as though they died in tremendous pain, but there is still no definitive answer from Animal Control or law enforcement pertaining to their cause of death.

Pasado’s and the local community want to know: Did the Sheriff’s Department lie to the media? Was someone in the Sheriff’s Office attempting to protect Greg Harris or give him guidance to avoid prosecution for animal cruelty? Despite his statement that he thought someone had shot his favorite horses, Harris did not want an investigation into their deaths. A reasonable person might conclude that Harris was coached to claim that the horses were shot to avoid prosecution for First Degree Felony Animal Cruelty.

Photo documentation of the deceased horses supports enough probable cause to exhume their bodies. Pasado’s is asking the Mason County Sheriff’s Department to allow Pasado’s to exhume the horses and perform necropsies.

The officers allowed Harris to bury the bodies without an investigation. Starving horses to death is a felony in Washington State. Inhumanely shooting or killing a horse is also a felony in Washington State (RCW 16.52.205 (2)(b). 

Pasado’s Cruelty Investigator, Kim Koon, performed a thorough investigation, collecting ample evidence and submitting a report to the prosecutor. Pasado’s full report of the two dead horses provides witness statements, police reports, veterinarian statements, and photos. The report addresses the following discrepancies and inadequacies:

No investigation was conducted by the Mason County Sheriff’s Department. The safety of the community has not been addressed. No determination has been made pertaining to how these horses died and the community is not confident in their safety or in the safety of their pets. There is evidence suggesting that Undersheriff Byrd is related to the suspect, Greg Harris.

Pasado’s offered assistance in this case, but all help was denied by the Mason County Sheriff’s Department. Pasado’s also offered to cover the costs of the necropsies of the dead horses as well as vaccinations, blankets, body condition scores, and ongoing care of the remaining two horses once they were placed in a rescue.

Pasado’s, Sunrise Equine, and Second Chance Ranch were standing by with all resources in place to remove and care for the two live horses belonging to Greg Harris to assure that they did not perish like the last two.

Deceased mare’s body

Pasado’s wants to know why these horses had to suffer and die – and why this case remains ambiguous and unresolved. We need to keep the community safe and there is sufficient evidence which warrants a full and thorough investigation. To help insure the safety of the people and animals in Mason County, Pasado’s wants to know how the horses died.
Pasado’s Safe Haven is asking that:

1. There is an investigation by a third party outside of Mason County.

2. The bodies of the two dead horses are exhumed and necropsies be performed to determine the cause of death.

3. Greg Harris is charged if a felony was committed and that he never own animals again.

The community continues to reach out to Pasado’s, asking for our assistance in finding justice for these innocent animals. The community has not forgotten that the horses died and they want to know how they reached their fate. If the horses were shot, the community needs to know why so that they can be assured that no one is going to harm their horses or other animals.

Undersheriff Byrd did admit that there were numerous complaints against Harris, but the complaints were not documented. Byrd did not reveal the reasoning behind the Sheriff’s Office filtering these complaints against Harris, nor how many had been filtered.

If Greg Harris did allow them to starve, justice must be served. He must be charged with a felony. If this was a human murder case, it would be outrageous for law enforcement to fail to perform an autopsy, hurriedly bury the body, and fail to question any suspects. Undersheriff Byrd stated, “If you look at this case, Greg Harris is the real victim here.” Byrd also stated that animal rights and women’s rights advocates are “fanatic.” This bias is a significant concern regarding the potential for fair and balanced investigations in this county.

This “victim,” whose horses were only skin stretched across their skeletal frames when they died, has a criminal background which may include domestic violence. Additionally, witnesses stated that he waved a gun at them. It is a felony to possess a gun if one has been charged with domestic violence and waving a weapon at someone is assault.

Pasado’s is a constant voice for the animals, even when situations are as difficult as this case. Our Cruelty Investigator collected evidence and researched this case thoroughly. The ample time devoted to this case is worth it, though: these horses died without an advocate and we will continue to speak up for the animals because it is right and true. Laws are in place to protect animals and we will continue to push for their enforcement, especially during such miscarriages of justice.

The prosecutor has Pasado’s report on this case. We will find out shortly if he is going to pursue the case. The next step would entail taking the report back to the Mason County Sheriff’s Department. Pasado’s has also asked that the prosecutor take the case to an agency outside of Mason County. We want to ensure that this case is investigated by someone who is not related to Greg Harris because this is a significant conflict of interest.

Justice should not be ignored for any reason, be it familial, personal bias against nonhuman animals, or apathy. Pasado’s will continue to pursue this important case as we seek justice for these innocent animals and a community in search of answers.

Please visit the website for updates on this case.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and report animal cruelty.  Your voice an often be the difference of life and death to an animal in need.  If you would like to help Pasado’s pursue important cases like this one, please consider making a donation today. Thanks to the support of readers like you, we can continue to be a voice and a force for the animals.

Thank you – from all of the animals here at Pasado’s Safe Haven.

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