Five of the rescued chihuahuas being held at the Lewis County Animal Shelter
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – They started getting brought in on Saturday, batches of chihuahuas found abandoned in East Lewis County.
The Lewis County Animal Shelter has been clipping, grooming and preparing for spaying and neutering of little dogs all week.
Yesterday afternoon the animals being temporarily housed at the facility on Centralia-Alpha Road huddled in small groups in five separate kennel areas.
Eighteen chihuahuas, all appearing to be pure bred, are or will be available for adoption.
“My gut feeling is they’re all from the same place,” Shelter Manager Amy Hanson said.
Three times so far, people have found some of the dogs and delivered them to the shelter, Hanson said yesterday afternoon.
Lindsey Dean lives in Cinebar but her daughter goes to school in Morton, so she drives that remote stretch along state Route 508 at least four times a day.
“It was Monday morning, I came around the corner and they were piled in the road,” Dean said. “They were hungry, I had a banana and they were eating dirt to get to the rest of the banana.”
They smelled terrible, their nails were long and they were afraid of people, she said.
On Tuesday after work, animal technician Robin Williams, drove out to the same area just over the Bear Canyon Bridge to see if she could locate any more. With help from Dean, Dean’s teenage son and her friend Missy Baier, they rounded up eight.
“If the first ones hadn’t gone out into the road, I don’t think anyone would have found them, cause they were back in the woods,” Williams said.
Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Criminal Deputy Dusty Breen says it’s a neglect issue that could be pursued criminally.
Lewis County Code Compliance Supervisor Bill Teitzel today said his office is seriously looking at the situation.
Teitzel said over the past six to eight months, the same type of dogs have been dumped in a similar fashion in similar locations, although never this many.
“They seem to coincide with things we’re doing at this office,” he said.
The county’s humane officer conducts inspections for people who want to apply for kennel permits, he said.
“My office doesn’t investigate crime, but if we find crime we will turn it over to the sheriff’s office,” Teitzel said.
Animals must be fixed before the shelter can release them to new homes. That requirement over the years has led to lower numbers of strays kept there.
At any given time, nowadays, they may have only two to three dogs available for adoption, according to Hanson.
This week almost 100 dogs are inhabiting the kennels and cages in the building.
On Monday, Lewis County seized dozens of dogs, mostly chihuahua-mix, from a man who lives on the 1600 block of Little Hanaford Road outside Centralia.
They undertook a similar action three years ago at the same place and the owner, Jimmie R. Jemison, was charged with a violation of state law related to dog breeding and standards of cleanliness, care and protection.
The case however was dismissed in December the following year because Jemison was found not competent to stand trial due to mental illness, according to documents filed in Lewis County Superior Court.
Soon after, the county filed for a declaratory judgement to “abate” the situation, as it believed he continued to breed dogs in the same poor conditions. The court signed a warrant of abatement earlier this month.
Hanson said when they went to the property Monday to impound Jemison’s dogs, the conditions were maybe even worse than before.
Some were living in the motor home with him and others were kept in outbuildings, she said.
They collected five litters of puppies, about two weeks old, she said, plus 47 dogs at least four months old and older.
Those animals are being cared for at the shelter, and will become available for adoption later.
Hanson said she doesn’t have any reason to think Jemison’s operation was related to the animals found off state Route 508.
Dean said she learned today, a man with a tree farm off state Route 508 found more chihuahuas but could only catch one.
“He said there were three more, maybe five miles down by a small bridge,” she said.
As many as four other chihuahuas have been discovered in the area and not turned into the shelter, she said.
She’ll keep going back to look for others, she said.
“Me and my friend Missy, we’re just heartbroken,” she said. “Because it’s obvious, they’re scared.”
For background, read “Centralia man pleads not guilty to dog breeding violation” from Saturday May 31, 2014, here
Six chihuahuas were picked up Monday morning off of state Route 508 near milepost 22. / Courtesy photo by Lindsey Dean