GARDINER — The owner of animals seized from a property in Gardiner has entered into a court contract restricting her to one animal.
Nataliya Nivens is the owner of the 1-acre property in the 276000 block of U.S. Highway 101 near Gardiner from which 41 animals — dogs, goats and chickens — were removed in June by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
The action was the culmination of a six-week investigation after complaints were filed with Sheriff’s Office animal services department.
According to Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Amanda Wilson, Nivens entered into a contract with Jefferson County District Court on Sept. 7. The contract requires that she own no animals except for a personal pet for 24 months and commit no criminal law violations.
“That was the extent of what we could do at the time,” Wilson said.
A restitution hearing is planned Dec. 7 after the Jefferson County Humane Society in Port Townsend and Center Valley Animal Rescue in Quilcene compute how much rehabilitation of animals cost them. Nivens will be required to pay back the money that the shelters spent housing and treating the animals.
Personal pet allowed
According to Wilson, if Nivens is found owning any animals — except for a personal pet the court allowed her to keep — or commits any criminal offenses, the contract will be revoked and she will be subject to animal cruelty charges.
If she were convicted, at minimum, the sentence would be what Nivens is required to do under the current contract — own no animals other than a pet and pay back the shelters — but an animal cruelty charge can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 364 days in jail.
Wilson said a large fine or jail time is unlikely in this case.
“If she doesn’t comply with the contract, she’ll be convicted,” Wilson said. “However, she has no criminal history, so it’s unlikely that she’d have to do more than what has already been laid out in the court contract.”
At the time of the seizure, Capt. Ben Stamper of the Sheriff’s Office said it was “obvious the entire property was being used to farm puppies.”
Wilson said that while the Anatolian shepherds, or kangals, did not have adequate food, shelter or medical care, the conditions they lived in were not as extreme as puppy mills she’s heard of.
“I guess it comes down to what you think a puppy mill is, but she was breeding animals and puppies to sell,” Wilson said.
All of them made a full recovery. Many have been adopted from the Jefferson County Humane Society and Center Valley Animal Rescue.
There are still a number of juvenile and adult Anatolian shepherds looking for homes. Shelter staffs have been working to socialize them with people and other animals.
Center Valley Animal Rescue is also looking for new homes for 11 goats and 17 chickens.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at email@example.com.