By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The executive director of the Seattle Animal Shelter now calls the Delridge situation we first reported Thursday “the worst case of animal neglect and cruelty I’ve seen in more than 20 years of doing this work, and it’s quite possibly the worst case our shelter has ever handled.” As the man arrested at his house near 26th/Findlay made his first court appearance today, SAS provided an update on the animals seized there, and photos of a few of them.
More than 220 animals are now in the care of SAS, whose spokesperson Melissa Mixon says they were “discovered in cages inside and outside a home on the property (and) are currently being treated at the shelter for severe neglect and malnourishment. Three of the animals are being transferred offsite for veterinary care reserved for exotic animals.” Here’s just part of the scene as the animals were brought to shelter HQ for intake:
Mixon provided this list of the animals they found:
128 guinea pigs
Mixon added that “in other buildings on the property, a number of deceased animals were found in cages. Investigators are still working to determine the exact amount but estimate it could be in the hundreds.”
More new information comes in the document from the 54-year-old suspect’s bail hearing today. He remained in jail today, with bail set at $7,500 by a judge, though prosecutors asked for $40,000. (11:11 pm update: He posted bond mid-evening tonight and was released.) He is not yet charged; that could happen Monday. The initial report is from SPD, which assisted animal-control enforcement in serving a warrant. The officer writes:
“I observed about 25 animals in the first room of the house … The animals were in small cages that (the suspect) called ‘transport’ cages. Many of the animals did not have food or water in their cages. (He) advised that he would be transporting the animals to the east coast soon.
Animal Control alerted me to unusual circumstances around the property. Specifically, they located deceased animals in varying degrees of decay. I asked (him) for permission to walk around the home and property.(He) allowed officers to (do so), and mentioned that he has nothing to hide. Every room of his home has animals living in cages. The floors are covered with hay, animal feces, and animal food. Inside the home I noticed two recently dead animals inside cages.
That wasn’t the worst of it – the report also says the officer found at least 80 animal skeletons, inside and outside of cages, in the backyard, in a structure behind the house, and in structures at property the suspect owns next door. The officer wrote, “Animal Control … believed the animals to have died from a lack of food, water, and medical attention.:”
HOW TO HELP: From the shelter:
In the 24 hours since the animals were discovered, the shelter has received an outpouring of support from community members, residents and organizations that want to help the animals. At this time, the best way to do that is through direct donations to the shelter’s Help the Animals Fund or via the shelter’s Amazon Wish List. Shelter staff have updated the list to reflect the needs for the 220-plus animals while in the shelter’s care. Graves also expressed gratitude for the support of the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation, which is collecting donations for the animals here.
Please note that, due to the ongoing pandemic requirements, the shelter is unable to accept in-person donations.
The shelter’s primary focus at this time is evaluating, treating and caring for the animals. In the coming days or weeks, Graves said the shelter may need the support of its foster community to help care for the animals so as not to strain capacity and resources at the shelter.
She says the animals are “in a very, very fragile state” but “are doing well in our care and our shelter team has done an incredible job in this all-hands-on-deck situation.”
The shelter says it’s handled double the usual number of severe animal-cruelty cases this year – 27 so far, when an average year brings 12 – and Mixon adds, “If you suspect an animal is being harmed, please contact the shelter at 206-386-7387.”