Auburn woman gets six months in puppy dragging

Herald staff

KENT – An Auburn woman who dragged a 7-month-old chow puppy behind a speeding van for a half-mile has been sentenced to six months in prison.

Gerri R. Elkins said her boyfriend made her do it.

"I’m very sorry for what happened to Pugsly," said the weeping Elkins, 26, at sentencing Friday at the Regional Justice Center. "I was suffering from an abusive relationship. I’ll never let anyone control my life again."

Elkins pleaded guilty earlier this month to first-degree animal cruelty in the June 29, 1999, incident.

Prosecutors said Elkins and Miguel A. Ramirez dragged the pup in retaliation after it nipped at Elkins’ niece two days before.

OREGON

Firefighters work to slow blaze: Firefighters struggled Saturday to contain a wildfire that raged across eastern Oregon, charring more than 70,000 acres, but earlier fears about it reaching a prison in Ontario had dissipated. One home, a trailer and a truck were destroyed in the fire, but no additional houses were threatened, said Tom Dabbs, a dispatcher in the Bureau of Land Management’s Vale District. An undetermined number of livestock have died, he said. Authorities earlier had feared the blaze, which had swept through grass, brush and grain fields, would reach the Snake River Correctional Institution. Transportation officials reopened a 160-mile stretch of Interstate 84 between Ontario and Pendleton early Saturday. It was closed about 5:30 p.m. Friday after visibility was reduced by smoke.

PORT ANGELES

Officials find, identify remains: Even as bone fragments found in Olympic National Park were identified as the remains of a Seattle man, another set of skeletal remains was discovered, park officials said Saturday. Skull fragments and part of a lower jaw found June 18 in the Hurricane Ridge area of the park were identified as remains of Douglas Gibbs, who was 33 when he was reported missing in September 1998. Gibbs was identified through dental records by the King County Medical Examiner’s office and the Washington State Patrol’s Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit, the park said in a release. The remains were confirmed as Gibbs’ on Friday, but the cause and exact timing of death remain under investigation. Meanwhile, rangers late Friday recovered skeletal remains from an off-trail area near Aurora Ridge, about 20 miles southwest of Port Angeles. The remains were transferred to the King County Medical Examiner’s office for identification.

KENNEWICK

Deal gives more leeway to non-Indian fishermen: A new deal will allow non-Indian fishermen in Washington and Oregon to catch more of the fall chinook run than they did last year. Negotiations between the states and tribes have produced a one-year plan that preserves what tribes say is vital hatchery production to rebuild Snake and Columbia river runs. The deal also appeared to keep the federal government from determining how the states and tribes split the catch, which is predicted to be a relatively healthy 200,000 chinook. But it doesn’t address future runs, an annual controversy since a long-term agreement collapsed in 1998.

TOPPENISH

Bush nephew stumps for uncle: The nephew of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush campaigned in the Yakima Valley over the past week to drum up Hispanic support for the GOP front-runner. The GOP is seeking Hispanic and young voters, said Bush, 24, a law student and former high school teacher. In Toppenish for a gathering at the house of city councilman Dan Garza, Bush brought out a mixed crowd: old-guard Republicans and young people. "The Latino community shares so much more in common with the Republican Party," he said. The bilingual Bush has taped a series of Spanish-language radio advertisements for his uncle.

FEDERAL WAY

Officer charged with extortion: A city police officer has been charged with second-degree extortion, accused of asking a shoplifting suspect for sex in exchange for dropping the charges. Officer Kenneth F. Erbar, 44, had two condoms in his pocket when he was arrested June 29 at the woman’s home during a sting operation, the charges say. He had called in sick that day. Erbar, charged Friday, is scheduled for arraignment Aug. 24. Police say they are continuing to investigate, to determine whether he violated department policy.

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