Officers seize animals at Island farm

 

February 7, 2019

Rick Nelson

The Wahkiakum County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant and seized neglected animals at a Puget Island residence on Monday. Assisting were area veterinarians, the Humane Society of Cowlitz County, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and other agencies.

At 7 a.m. on Monday morning, the Wahkiakum County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant for animal neglect and animal cruelty at Angel Wings Pet Sanctuary on Puget Island, which is owned and operated by Debra Lawson-Bean.

"We had three complainants come to us with pictures, video, and verbal statements," Sheriff Mark Howie said Tuesday. "When we have a case of animal neglect, when it gets to this point and we have this amount of evidence, it is a huge multi-agency, multi-interdepartmental cooperative incident."

A team of about 30 people from several agencies were involved, including Cowlitz Humane Society, WDFW, Wahkiakum Health and Human Services, Cathlamet EMS, and three veterinarians from Clark County. They rescued more than 60 animals, in varying degrees of health.

Of the 60 animals, most were cats. There were 13-15 goats, two horses, chickens, and dogs.

"Our primary mission is not punitive," Howie said. "We've got to help the animals and get out of there, get them to safety and care.

"The Cowlitz Humane Society are outstanding partners. They provided two animal control officers on the scene that day, trailers for the horses and goats, and animal control kennel trucks. We were willing to reach out to our community to maybe foster while this case is pending, but we didn't need to, they had everything in place to place animals in foster care. The ones that were healthy enough."


Weeks of planning have gone into the operation, and the rescue on Monday took hours. The 30 people involved were there until after dark in frigid weather, bringing animals out one by one, or finding them loose on the property, kenneling them, handing them to a veterinarian to be assessed, and then moving the animals into trailers and trucks.

They will continue to keep track of the the animals, logging the extent of their care and mortality, all evidence for the Wahkiakum County Prosecutor, who must determine charges, which are pending.

"We would not have been able to do this without ordinary citizens stepping up and providing us with information and evidence that we needed to obtain a search warrant," Howie said. "We would not have been able to do this in a successful manner, because we have not had a case this big, involving this many animals in this way, without all of the agencies and all the folks, inter-departmental, inter-county, that came to help us. That was a big one, to get cooperation from that many folks. Everybody had the same concern, to get the animals out of there and rescued."


 

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