QUILCENE — The Jefferson County District Court has approved the forfeiture and transfer of ownership of more than 50 animals seized in an alleged animal abuse case to Center Valley Animal Rescue.
The menagerie includes goats, chickens, ducks, sheep, cattle, cats and a donkey.
A total of 59 animals were seized by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in July from Quilcene resident Nancy Park, 75. Those not emaciated or diseased were infested with parasites such as fleas, Sara Penhallegon, Center Valley Animal Rescue (CVAR) director, said on Thursday.
Penhallegon and her team of part-time employees, volunteers and interns at the Quilcene nonprofit rescue are now getting the animals spayed/neutered to prepare them for adoption.
Park appeared Wednesday in the Jefferson County District Court, where Judge Mindy Walker approved the forfeiture and transfer of ownership of the majority of the animals to CVAR.
Park’s attorney requested the return of the four dogs that were seized, and Walker approved the motion with the conditions that Park must post a $3,000 security to the court by noon Sept. 23 and then must have the dogs seen by a veterinarian once a week at Park’s expense.
If she misses one vet visit, the dogs will be seized, and if she does not post the security by the deadline, the dogs will be forfeited, according to the court documents.
A criminal trial of Park is scheduled for Dec. 10.
“I am very happy we are getting most of the animals,” Penhallegon said. “I’m not so happy that we’re not getting ownership of the dogs.
“They were in deplorable conditions when they came here, so the fact that they are much healthier now doesn’t mean that they weren’t in horrible shape when they got here. It’s very frustrating, but it is what it is. At least we have all the animals, and we can start getting them spayed and neutered and ready for adoption.”
Although 59 animals were seized, CVAR is now caring for 67; nine goat kids were born during the past three weeks while one chick died due to parasites, Penhallegon said.
Some of the cattle and sheep are currently pregnant, she added.
The animals have needed intensive care since the initial seizure. Surgeries, IVs, medication and general proper care and feeding has cost the CVAR more than $80,000 in addition to its regular expenses, with no ending restitution price tag in sight, Penhallegon said.
Although CVAR has received little from Jefferson County, it did get a $10,000 grant from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, she said.
When CVAR decided to oversee the animals, its board knew the county lacked funding but decided to move forward anyway, Penhallegon said.
“This is what we do,” she said. “We’re not going to let animals starve to death because the county didn’t have the money.”
The majority of the animals have improved immensely, she added.
Several of the cattle, for instance, have gained more than 100 pounds.
The dogs that the judge ruled could be returned to Park needed dental work, Penhallegon said, adding one had part of its jaw removed due to abscessed teeth.
“The poultry was the most deplorable,” Penhallegon said, describing multiple infections and diseases that the chickens and ducks had when they arrived at the rescue.
CVAR has been notified by Whatcom Humane Society in Bellingham and Pasado’s Safe Haven in Sultan about possible assistance with housing and adoption.
To help recover costs from this seizure — as well as its general operating costs of feeding, medical and rehabilitation of animals — CVAR is hosting its annual auction and celebration online, organizer Dinah DiNova said.
Some of the auction items include a private plane ride over the San Juan Islands, attending a CVAR wildlife release and a private photo shoot at CVAR.
The auction will run from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3. The culmination will be an online celebration at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 3 with stories of the 2020 rescue year, highlighting rescued animals in their forever homes, behind-the-scenes footage and other videos, DiNova said.
Tickets are being sold in three tiers. The first tier, “Baby Goat,” is $10 and includes a raffle ticket for the “For the Love of the Animals” raffle basket. The second, “Diva the Horse,” is $45 and includes a raffle ticket, a special edition T-shirt and a grab bag of pet treats.
The third tier, “Maybelle the Pig,” is $75 and includes the aforementioned packages as well as a pre-packaged vegetarian dinner catered by Crescent Moon Catering, which can be picked up at locations in Port Townsend, Chimacum and Quilcene, with delivery available for an additional fee.
All proceeds from the tickets and auction go toward CVAR’s services, and an anonymous donor has agreed to match all donations up to $40,000, Penhallegon said.
Tickets for the event can be purchased — and the auction found — at fortheloveofanimals.maxgiving.bid.
Jefferson County Reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.