Sheriff’s officials in Washington state are investigating a case of alleged animal abuse involving dogs reportedly owned by a judge for the American Kennel Club.
No charges have been filed against the dogs’ owners or the owners of two houses in suburban Seattle where 100 animals were seized Oct. 6, according to the King County Sheriff’s office. At least a dozen dogs had to be euthanized, and the surviving animals were placed in foster homes.
A tip from Pasado’s Safe Haven, a Seattle-area animal sanctuary, sparked the investigation into conditions at a home in Burien, Wash. When officers arrived they found 38 Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and Chins “in relatively poor health and kept in extremely dirty dog crates,” according to a press release.
A man at the residence told authorities the “majority of the dogs were his, and claimed some were show dogs. Furthermore, he said there were additional dogs at a house near Issaquah.”
When officers arrived at the second house, east of Seattle, they found another 62 dogs.
“These animals were in relatively good health and in clean crates, but due to the condition of the house, the dogs were taken,” the press release said.
On Wednesday, Pasado’s Safe Haven posted details on its website, including the name of one of the alleged dog owners, Margi Hamilton, affiliated with the American Kennel Club.
Reached by phone on Thursday, Hamilton said, “My attorney has advised me not to discuss the case at this time. I look forward to working with the media at the appropriate time.”
Lisa Peterson, a spokeswoman at the AKC’s national headquarters in New York City, said the club was “aware of the situation,” and said the club had "placed Margi Hamilton on temporary referral until it is determined whether or not she has violated" AKC policies.
In effect, until the case is resolved, Hamilton cannot breed, sell or transfer dogs with the expectation of AKC paperwork, and she is prohibited from accepting AKC judging assignments, Peterson said.
Hamilton said it was “timely” that Pasado released more details about the case on Wednesday, but would not elaborate. She suggested the case may not be as straightforward as it appears.
“Very little of it has to do with dogs,” she said.
Amber Chenoweth, media manager of Pasado’s Safe Haven, said the group first alerted law enforcement about the case after they received video footage of the Burien dogs from a confidential source. She said individuals who feel overwhelmed by caring for animals should reach out for assistance.
"There are lots of shelters and sancutaries out there than can help," she said.
Sgt. Cindi West said King County Sheriff investigators are still working on the case.
“Our detectives will be meeting with the prosecutor’s office to determine if charges will be filed,” West said.
Many of the dogs seized were placed with Community Animal Resources Education Society in Burien or CARES, a non-profit group providing animal control services.
Debra George of CARES said the surviving animals were treated by veterinarians for a host of problems, including ear and skin infections. "Our concern right now is the dogs," she said, adding that the animals would remain in foster homes until the legal case is sorted out.
The group is actively seeking donations or grants to help cover the cost of their care, she said.
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