FOLLOWUP: New details of Delridge animal-cruelty case, as suspect appears in court. Also – how you can help the animals who survived

(Thursday, reader photo by Alex)

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.

(Seattle Animal Shelter photos from here down)

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:

77 rabbits
128 guinea pigs​
​7 chickens
2 mice
7 chinchillas
3 dogs

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.”

48 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: New details of Delridge animal-cruelty case, as suspect appears in court. Also - how you can help the animals who survived"

  • Auntie October 16, 2020 (8:49 pm)

    What was the judge thinking, setting the bail so low? This guy could be back out collecting “pets” in the blink of an eye!

  • FuryFaces October 16, 2020 (9:44 pm)

    thank you for the update WSB.  I was just getting ready to email you the information on Help the Animals Fund or via the shelter’s Amazon Wish List.   You rock with your caring and timing! 

  • AMB October 16, 2020 (9:45 pm)

    Before we judge, let’s remember that most folks who find themselves in situations like this have serious mental health issues going on. They are trying to love and be loved in their own, misguided way. They don’t intend to be cruel. 

    • Mel October 16, 2020 (10:06 pm)

      AMB- with all due respect, you have no idea what the intent was and whether or not this person suffered from mental illness. It’s a very real possibility, but people can still be upset with the conditions these poor animals had to endure. 

      • AMB October 16, 2020 (10:23 pm)

        Mel, neither do you.

        • Mel October 17, 2020 (5:51 am)

          AMB- pretty sure I just said we don’t know the intent and while it could’ve been mental illness it’s still ok to be upset. So I don’t get your comment….

        • Francis Rodriguez October 17, 2020 (9:26 am)

          If he was telling animal control they were being transported to the east coast then this was likely a business.  If you don’t want to vilify him, that’s on you.  He needs to be punished to the full extent of the law and never allowed to have pets again.  That’ll never happen though

          • Bud October 17, 2020 (8:46 pm)

            True none of us know the circumstances of this particular case, but it’s pretty clear that given the intention to travel with the animals, that this is financially motivated; and that the amounts and kinds of animals that are typically used for fur / pelts. Jumping to the conclusion that every person in Seattle who commits a crime is mentally ill or disadvantaged in some so we feel sorry for them and do nothing is why we have such rampant crime in Seattle. 

    • Anne October 16, 2020 (10:06 pm)

      Don’t care what he intended-he  ended up being cruel- imagine the “ life” of those animals-slowly dying -yes-no doubt this person is mentally ill-but it doesn’t negate the cruelty & torture those animals endured. So -sorry I will judge- this person needs to be put somewhere -away -where he can get help -but where he can never be able to have the chance to do this again. 

    • Sb2780 October 16, 2020 (10:55 pm)

      Couldn’t you make that same misguided argument about pedophiles? The person was mentally ill and didn’t mean to hurt anyone, and was just trying to show ‘love’ in their own misguided way? Sorry not buying it. When the end result is catastrophic unlawful harm, there are legal consequences. Sadly this will probably be plead down from a felony to a gross misdemeanor, no jail time, and probation. 

    • Georgina October 17, 2020 (1:57 am)

      The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    • Mellow Kitty October 17, 2020 (7:25 am)

      Jeffery Dahmer, Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgway also suffered from mental illness . . . doesn’t excuse what they did. 

    • 22blades October 17, 2020 (9:22 am)

      He was able enough to appear & be represented by an attorney before a judge. Short of the attorney convincing the judge of “extenuating circumstances” such as health, I presume he can “understand the charges brought against you“. He’s able enough to have his day in court.

  • Sarah October 16, 2020 (10:09 pm)

    Thanks for the wish list link. I just ordered them some chew sticks and food dispensers – I bet the majority of these critters will have serious dental concerns and the difference hygienic and appealing food and chewing options can make is a big one. Animals are having a hard year too.

  • bridger October 16, 2020 (10:11 pm)

    The judge set the bail low because he or she understands that this man is not a criminal; he is struggling with mental illness. Animal hoarding is a type of obsessive compulsive disorder, and punishing or imprisoning him will solve nothing. He needs help. More information about animal hoarding: Tufts University Vet School site about animal hoarding

    • alki_2008 October 16, 2020 (10:40 pm)

      He’s a breeder, particularly of rabbits and cavies (guinea pigs).  He has shown rabbits at shows, and used to show dogs in his younger years.  He has been a judge and served on organizations for these species.

      This is not a typical hoarding situation, where the animals are kept as “pets” – the Tufts site uses the term “companion animals”.  Most of the animals in this case, the rabbits and guinea pigs, are not kept as pets but instead for shows and breeding/sale. It’s more likely the bail was low because the accused doesn’t have a criminal record. But if you know that it’s because of a mental illness designation, then please share that insight.

  • Annaeileen October 16, 2020 (10:15 pm)

    BS! Like millions of people he could be suffering from mental illness but that is NO excuse for what he has allegedly done.  It is truly horrifying to read the lack of compassion and basic care he has not provide.   He needs to be severely punished with jail time, fines and he should be never allowed to have pets and get mental help.  I read his Facebook page and he and his friends are breeding and showing animals and selling them – the same as the awful puppy mills.  His bail should be so much higher. 

  • TJ October 16, 2020 (10:29 pm)

    Bridger, do you know that to be the case here, or just guessing? Sounds like the typical Seattle judgement on not holding someone accountable by guessing their condition and making excuses for it. I don’t get “animal hoarding” and how that is a symptom of anything, but whatever. I just feel bad for the animals.

  • feral cat October 16, 2020 (10:35 pm)

    OMG this person IS a criminal plain and simple.  mental illness or not.  he broke the law by making these animals suffer.  this person will NOT accept help nor will it be given.  I do know this for a fact and once released he will get more to start all over again that is a fact.

  • Jeannie October 17, 2020 (2:26 am)

    I refuse to feel sorry for this monster. Mental illness is one thing; outright cruelty and abuse is another. 

  • I Prefer Animals October 17, 2020 (3:36 am)

    I absolutely cannot stand it when people use mental illness as an excuse for people who commit horrific crimes like this. Mental illness or not, HUNDREDS of innocent defenseless animals SUFFERED and many died slowly and painfully at the hands of this monster. This animal killer told an SPD officer that the 25 animals in the first room who were caged with no food or water were to be transported to the East Coast soon. He is a despicable breeder whose only concern was making money by breeding and selling these poor animals. I’m so sick and tired of constantly hearing and reading about people who use and hurt animals for their own financial gain or whatever other selfish reasons. There needs to be actual enforcement of animal rights laws. What he did is a felony. No probation, no reduced charges, no plea deals. He caged these poor animals with no food or water or basic medical care. He couldn’t even last a couple of days in jail. Posted bond as soon as he could. The irony makes me sick.

  • Stopbuyinglivingthingsforyourshorttermentertainnent October 17, 2020 (5:40 am)

    Stop buying these animals for your children at Easter and whenever your kids feel like holding something soft for a few minutes until they get bored with it and maybe this will not happen again.

  • anonyme October 17, 2020 (6:32 am)

    It’s clear that most of these animals were being bred for sale, not companionship.  Even if mental illness was a contributing factor, it is not a free pass to commit cruelty, torture, and death.  Given the species involved, I’m wondering if they were being sold to labs?   This guy should never, ever be allowed to keep an animal of any species and should be subject to lifetime routine checks.  After he gets out of prison, that is.

    • Chemist October 17, 2020 (2:18 pm)

      No, lab animals are generally out of a catalog with very controlled breeding and habitat.  They want data from a very uniform population and can’t tolerate large differences in the health of an animal population based on a home breeders unsanitary home.  Reproducibility favors commercial supply and animal studies are regulated.

      • anonyme October 17, 2020 (4:08 pm)

        Chemist, thanks for that clarification.  Makes sense.  I know that labs source dogs and other animals from kill shelters, Craigslist, etc., so thought maybe they got guinea pigs the same way.

  • AMD October 17, 2020 (7:24 am)

    These guys are not ready quite yet, but soon most of these animals will be available for adoption (or fostering).  If quarantine (or life in general) has had you thinking about getting a pet this year, consider adopting a small animal instead of a cat or dog.  They make WONDERFUL companions, are easy to litter box train, are quieter, and don’t require as much space as larger animals.  Many times landlords are more accommodating with small animal ownership (lower pet fees, etc.) than larger pets, so it’s worth asking if a Guinea Pig would be allowed, even if dogs aren’t.  Small animals are often harder to adopt out because people think of shelters for dogs or cats, but head to the pet store for chinchillas and other little critters.  Or they have never considered animals like mice as pets (mice and rats are very loving, affectionate, and intelligent).  So next time you’re thinking about a new pet, give some extra thought to small animal adoption.  

    • Kayo October 17, 2020 (8:54 am)

      Agree!  Wish we could take a couple guinea pigs but our dog would be an issue.  Love guinea pigs.  They are adorable.  Little squeaks.  

    • Teri Ensley October 17, 2020 (2:21 pm)

      Well said!  When the time comes, please consider fostering or adopting!

    • DF October 20, 2020 (12:50 pm)

      They also have to figure out which animals actually belong to the guy arrested. He was a transporter, so some of these animals belonged to other people.

  • Annaeileen October 17, 2020 (7:46 am)

    This man is a breeder, he breeds to sell and show. His Facebook page and friends are all in the business of small animals.  He – like millions- could be mentally ill and need help but that does not mean he should punished for his horrific crimes and he should never be allowed to have pets nor breed again.  This is like puppy mills but for smaller animals. Did it get to be too much?  He has hundreds of friends online but did he let any friends  in his house?  Thank goodness animal control finally got in.  I donated and had my employer match.I can’t think of how much they suffered 😞  

    • DF October 20, 2020 (12:51 pm)

      With the animals he mostly dealt with, this was likely not a mill. There is little to no profit in doing that with rabbits or cavies like there is with some breeds of cats and dogs.

  • John W October 17, 2020 (7:54 am)

    What upsets me the most about this tragedy, the concern for innocent animals being irresponsibly bred and whether to punish the pet owner or forgive him for mental illness, is this outpouring of help and assistance when we have human beings with the very same needs, the neglected, mentally ill, abused and homeless in our community.I hope this starts a dialogue on the humane choices we all make every day.

    • Marianne October 17, 2020 (8:33 am)

      Here we go…  People with those same needs have many places to turn for help in our community.  Some take that help, others choose not to.  Animals are at our mercy and are not able to defend themselves or ask for help when they end up in abusive/neglectful situations like this.  And again, people who are choosing to offer support are most likely the very same ones who offer support to the vulnerable people in our community.

      • I Prefer Animals October 17, 2020 (7:17 pm)

        I agree with you 100% Marianne. Thank you so much for stating the obvious. People have resources, they have options, they can choose. Animals cannot speak up or defend themselves against neglect/abuse/torture/murder inflicted upon them by humans. Also, having compassion and being concerned for animals and the homeless are not mutually exclusive. People can actually care for more than one issue at a time!

  • Hg October 17, 2020 (9:15 am)

    Mental illness, substance abuse, etc. is an EXPLANATION, not an EXCUSE. I think Seattle’s problem is we have those flipped. 

    • I Prefer Animals October 17, 2020 (6:57 pm)

      Explanation, excuse, whatever you want to call it, living breathing animals suffered. Nothing can explain or excuse away the neglect/abuse/torture/murder of defenseless animals. Ever. 

      • Tab October 18, 2020 (2:20 pm)

        An explanation is different from an excuse – we need to know the root of his action (hording animals) in order to best prevent him returning to it. For someone who hordes as an effect of mental illness (often compulsion to ‘save’ creatures, with no awareness of their own limits), treating the mental illness with medication and therapy can prevent relapsing to the harmful behavior. It wouldn’t fix things for the animals that had already suffered, but saves future victims. Multiple commenters have said that this man is a breeder and shows animals, which is different than the common hording scenario. If true, this is a pet mill – what it will take to keep him from returning to hording will be different. Strict punishments – jail/prison time and monetary fees – and regular monitoring may be the far more effective solution. He needs to understand that animals are not acceptable collectables and he can’t treat them as an object to make and sell in our society. To best save future animals, we need to know why these ones were harmed. This is different from an excuse – knowing why is not permission to continue. 

  • pupsarebest October 17, 2020 (9:39 am)

    Rightly and predictably, this acute case of animal cruelty/neglect has provoked outrage and concern.I encourage everyone to connect the dots to the wider, chronic circumstances  of the brutal, cruel, filthy meat industry.  Be part of the solution, through reducing/eliminating  meat/dairy/egg consumption, and sourcing what you must through responsible farms, not agribusiness. 

  • wseaturtle October 17, 2020 (10:25 am)

    John W, exactly.  Some of the comments on here are quite frightening and lacking  perspective.  “but for the grace of god….

    • romanwink October 17, 2020 (11:10 am)

      John W & WSeaturtle — Yes.  Perspective important here.  Though we must have compassion for the animals of the planet and this person was abusive, I believe that Humans though flawed and sometimes mentally ill, are #1 on the Great Chain of Being.

      • anonyme October 17, 2020 (12:26 pm)

        The Great Chain of Being also places whites above blacks, men above women, and kings above all people.  That’s not perspective, it’s racist, misogynist, speciesist, narcissistic claptrap.

    • Calires October 17, 2020 (4:43 pm)

      WSeaturtle, it’s only by the grace of God that you’re not a small animal breeder?  Well, whatever it takes, because unregulated animal breeding is a disaster for animals.  There’s the dog or cat that ends up in a “free to good home” post, (e.g. I don’t really care what happens to the animal I just want to get rid of it ASAP),  because a parent wanted their child to experience “the miracle of birth” and let their pet have just one litter that surprise! none of their friends or family wants to take.  There’s the dog or cat that ends up in a neglectful or abusive household because someone wanted to make an easy buck by becoming a backyard breeder and couldn’t care less where the puppies or kittens end up. There’s the absolutely horrific conditions that all animals in puppy and kitty mills endure, living in filthy cages forced to breed over and over, often living years with broken limbs and weeping sores until they die.  The people who do this are not mentally ill, they are either misguided or just bad people who don’t care about anything other than themselves.

  • sgs October 17, 2020 (4:59 pm)

    While I agree that adopting a small animal is different from a dog or cat, it doesn’t mean it’s easier.  Keeping  a rabbit in the house is  currently the widest accepted form of keeping a rabbit (not well said, sorry), which means they should not be confined to cages and must be allowed to have room to hop around – and protected from chewing through wires, etc..  They also require a special diet (not just bagged pellets, but timothy hay, achoo!) and can be expensive with vets.  Rabbits also live quite a long time, so it is a commitment.   They poop A LOT, so waste is not a minor issue.  Not trying to dissuade, just give a real picture.  My rabbits lived for 9-10 years. Once you have a rabbit, you are hooked.   Special Bunny and Rabbit Haven have great info on their websites about rabbit ownership.  Hope these rescued buns find great forever homes.

  • anonyme October 18, 2020 (7:08 am)

    Amen, Calires.  Some years ago I worked on a campaign initiated by Ron Sims that would have required anyone breeding a pet to have a license, as well as imposing a universal spay/neuter requirement.  It is time that initiative was resurrected.  Backyard breeders are particularly heinous.  The “miracle of birth” phenomenon is especially hypocritical as it ignores the other end of the circle of life for these animals – the part when they are euthanized at shelters or starve on the streets.  Somehow that reality never makes it into the lesson plan.  Once I was at a shelter to adopt when a worker walked by carrying a plastic storage bin containing dozens of beautiful kittens.  He was taking them to the gas chamber.  That was a sight I never, ever forgot.

    • DF October 20, 2020 (1:05 pm)

      You want a spay and neuter requirement on breeders? Kind of defeats their ability to be breeders, doesn’t it?

  • Fiona October 19, 2020 (11:39 am)

    For everyone arguing here I’d like to request that we channel our energy and compassion to the animals and those caring for them. If you haven’t already done so,  please donate to the Seattle Animal Shelter or purchase items off of their Amazon Wishlist. Links provided in the article. Thank you.

  • tina October 20, 2020 (11:24 am)

    I think a lot of this has to do with money. There are Soooooooo many breeders on Craigslist alone. Puppies, now cats and rabbits are being bred like crazy. I have seen this for years and it never seems to end. Quite a few puppies have been sold with parvo, but people don’t learn . Unfortunately it seems the animals pay the ultimate price. Please educate others ….adopt from a shelter. There are purebred there too, plus a shelter dog or pet gives just as much love as a $1000 pet. 

    • DF October 20, 2020 (1:29 pm)

      Not likely. There is so little money in breeding rabbits and cavies.

Sorry, comment time is over.