Officers at the scene wouldn’t comment but here’s what SAS spokesperson Melissa Mixon tells WSB:
The Seattle Animal Shelter is conducting an investigation into an animal welfare and potential animal cruelty case. Working jointly with Seattle Police Department, the shelter successfully executed a search warrant early this afternoon and discovered at least 200 animals in the home. These animals include dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs. and chinchillas. Some of the animals were deceased inside the home.
Because this is an ongoing investigation, we are limited in what we can say so as not to jeopardize the investigation and due process. While this investigation is ongoing, animals seized from the property will be moved into the care of the Seattle Animal Shelter for evaluation.
Seattle Animal Shelter is authorized under City code to investigate cases and bring forth charges of animal cruelty. First-degree animal cruelty is a Class C felony punishable by five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.
We will follow up to see how the case proceeds.
7:13 PM UPDATE: An update from Mixon – she says one person is in custody, and clarifies that investigators “found more than 200 live animals in a home .. An unknown number of deceased animals were also discovered in a second home on the property. Investigators are still working to determine the exact amount. Seattle Animal Shelter Director Ann Graves described the scene in the homes as one of the most severe cases of animal neglect and cruelty she has seen in her 20-year career. As in many animal welfare cases, the discovery and seizure of these animals was in part thanks to a vigilant community member who saw something and said something. It’s a reminder to all of us that animals don’t have a voice and that’s why it’s so important for us all to remain vigilant and help speak for them when something seems wrong. ”
9:37 PM: The suspect, a 54-year-old man, was booked into King County Jail for investigation of animal cruelty. He does not appear to have a criminal record. Meantime, there’s a discussion in comments below about what SAS might need to care for the seized animals; one commenter says they’re already emailing people who have fostered animals before.
ADDED FRIDAY: Our extensive followup, including how to help the rescued animals, is here.