Jefferson County’s seizure of animals costs $40,000

PORT HADLOCK – Jefferson County has spent more than $40,000 to house and care for 76 animals seized two months ago from a home where authorities said they were being neglected, while charges against the owners are still being negotiated, county officials said.

The Jefferson County animal shelter will be overcrowded by the large population of animals unavailable for adoption until the couple agrees to forfeit the animals or a judge forces them to.

Jefferson County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ted DeBray is negotiating with the two animal owners and their public defender.

“We’re coming very close here to a resolution,” DeBray said on Friday.

He has said that the potential charges against the couple – who are not being named because they have not been arrested or charged – could be extensive.

DeBray said they are exploring other options, such as lesser charges or making the couple agree not to care for animals in the future.

“I’m trying to come up with a charge that will take care of our objective,” DeBray said.

Seized were 38 chickens, four geese, four rabbits, seven cats, two horses, 20 dogs and a sheep.

Jefferson County Animal Services began checking in on the animals regarding their care in September 2005. According to court documents, animal control officers found during several site visits that no one was in charge of the health and safety of the animals and that the income level of the residents was not enough to provide adequate food or veterinary care.

Over time, they recorded the deaths of several animals, but the property owners claimed the deaths were caused by heart attacks from being harassed by neighborhood dogs, records show.

The remaining animals were seized in April.

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