Issaquah dog breeder faces animal cruelty charges

May 8, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 12:45 p.m. May 8, 2012

The empty kennels outside a rundown Issaquah house and the sound of dogs barking from inside alerted animal rescue advocates to possible trouble.

Days later, in early October, King County Sheriff’s Office investigators raided the house and discovered 62 Chihuahuas and Japanese Chins inside filthy carriers.

On May 3, King County prosecutors filed animal-cruelty charges against the homeowner, a dog breeder and a past judge for the American Kennel Club, a prestigious registry of purebred dogs. Prosecutors said Issaquah resident Margaret Ann Hamilton, 70, hoarded more than 100 dogs at homes in Issaquah and Burien.

Detective John K. Pavlovich said Hamilton and her since-deceased husband hoarded the animals at a home is in the 5900 block of 189th Avenue Southeast on Cougar Mountain, about a mile south of Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Pavlovich said the Hamiltons purchased or bred the animals as show dogs.

Police and Regional Animal Services of King County animal control officers raided the Issaquah and Burien homes after receiving a tip from Pasado’s Safe Haven, a nonprofit animal rescue organization in Seattle. Police discovered 38 more dogs at a Burien home owned by Hamilton’s brother-in-law.

Investigators “noted and documented the overpowering stench of urine, feces, decay and dirt,” Pavlovich told the court. “It was so bad that protective face masks were necessary; several detectives and RASKC officers reported that they were ill for several days after the service of the warrant.”

Veterinarians later euthanized 14 ill animals — 13 dogs from the Burien home and a dog from the Issaquah home. Officers later placed many dogs seized from the homes under the care of CARES of Burien, a nonprofit animal-rescue organization.

In September, a caller alerted Pasado’s Safe Haven employees about dog hoarding and dirty, malnourished animals at the Burien home, court documents state.

On Sept. 27, Pasado’s Safe Haven employees illegally entered the home through the unlocked back door. In the basement, they discovered 30 to 40 small dogs locked in small carriers. The employees shot a short video to capture the deplorable conditions in the basement.

“Most of the dogs had no food or water in the crate, many displayed what they described as ‘neurotic’ behavior, such as circling repeatedly in the small crates,” Pavlovich continued.

Pasado’s Safe Haven then provided footage to law enforcement officers showing Chihuahua, Pomeranian and Japanese Chin dogs. The video showed dogs in rusty, feces- and urine-soiled cages.

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