Not guilty pleas entered in animal shelter case


March 14, 2019

Debra Lawson, who has dropped Bean from her name due to a divorce, she said, was in court March 6 to plead not guilty to eight counts stemming from her ownership of Angel Wings, an animal sanctuary on Puget Island.

Lawson has been charged with 1) failure to provide suitable food; 2) failure to provide facilities for animal waste disposal so as to minimize odors; 3) failure to tag dogs or cats with a unique identifying number; 4) failure to provide indoor facilities adequately ventilated to remove foul odors; 5) failure to provide outdoor facilities with sufficient space for the proper exercise and movement of the animals contained therein; 6) failure to obtain a registration certificate; as well as two counts of animal cruelty.

After some discussion, Judge Heidi Heywood ruled that while the case was pending, Lawson could not operate a shelter, acquire any new animals, including pets that Lawson may want to keep for herself, and that she could not have more than a dozen animals of any sort. She must not violate any laws or have any animal related civil infractions or violations of any kind.

However, Heywood would not order a blanket authorization to search Lawson’s home without probable cause.

“Circumstances are indicative that there is a serious risk to the health and safety to any new animals that might be placed with you,” Heywood said.

Lawson was temporarily represented on Wednesday but was still looking for counsel. Heywood advised Lawson to find an attorney as soon as possible in order to protect her own interests.

Heywood made accommodations for Lawson who said she would be having a biopsy soon due to a cancer diagnosis. Pre-trial was set for April 3 and a jury trial is scheduled for May 31.


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