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On Thursday, January 8, 2016 Pasado’s Safe Haven conducted an emergency rescue of what ended up being 47 cats and kittens from a serious hoarding/abandonment case after Snohomish County Animal Control turned a blind eye to these animals. Sadly, help did not arrive soon enough for three tiny kittens who were found dead.
Neighbors near the residence tried desperately to get help for the animals after their owners vacated the property on Christmas Day. The cats had been living in absolute filth, in freezing temperatures and with little to no food for weeks. The layers of feces and urine inside the residence made breathing difficult for both humans and animals.
Neighbors thought that the animals would be rescued when two Animal Control officers finally arrived at the residence in two separate vans on January 5th. However, the neighbors’ hopes immediately turned to frustration after the officers only took a quick look through the window and then suggested to two different neighbors that they “trap them and take them to the shelter”.
Snohomish County Animal Control claimed they “did not have legal permission to enter the house”. They also claimed they couldn’t get a warrant to help the animals because “the house wasn’t in foreclosure yet” and that they did “not have enough probable cause to obtain…a search warrant”. Each of these statements show a stunning failure to grasp basic elements of both our animal cruelty code and law enforcement procedures.
Our current Animal Cruelty Code, RCW 16.52, clearly provides that animal control officers can enter a property upon the reasonable belief that the animals are at risk. Animals living in a known abandoned home, with horrific sanitation and no heat (in January) easily meet the legal standards to render aid.
In addition, it is clear from photos and videos that the sanitation violations were easily visible from the windows of the home. This alone should have been the beginning of a straightforward case of 2nd degree animal cruelty charges. They had ample probable cause for a judge to grant a warrant that would allow them to seize the animals. It may have taken several hours to get the warrant, but it could have been done. They simply chose not to do it.
Unfortunately, the unwillingness of Snohomish County Animal Control, under management of the Snohomish County Auditor, is sadly proving – yet again – why organizations like Pasado’s Safe Haven are desperately needed in our community. It is also further proof that Snohomish County doesn’t understand the laws they are enforcing and too many animals continue to suffer because of it.
The rescued cats are all settling in at Pasado’s Safe Haven’s Healing Barn. They are being treated for a range of medical and health issues including untreated injuries, upper respiratory infections and internal and external parasites. We will continue to give them the love and care they deserve until they are all well again.
We are not only caring for these cats, we are also working to change the way our animal cruelty laws are enforced in this county.
WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please donate today to allow us to continue this lifesaving work.