By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Prosecutors filed criminal charges against the 79-year-old Dryad woman from whom dozens of foxhounds were seized last month.
The 65 dogs which included 18 puppies were living in what authorities called deplorable conditions, most seemingly well enough fed but in kennels which were overrun with feces and breeding amongst themselves.
Two of the animals are fox terriers – the rest foxhounds – belonging to Nancy Punches who resides on River Road.
Multiple charges were filed on Friday in Lewis County District Court in Chehalis. Punches will receive a summons to appear in court for an arraignment.
One dead puppy was found when numerous animal control employees, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and at least one non-profit rescue group rounded up the canines on October 19.
The following day, at least three puppies were euthanized because of positive tests for Parvo Virus, and five of the 17 dogs taken to Pasado’s Safe Haven in Snohomish County tested positive for a parasite called Giardia which is deadly to puppies, according to charging documents.
Punches said in an interview she didn’t intend for the animals to multiply, but their fencing had deteriorated. Authorities said they did not think she was selling them.
The longtime breeder of show dogs admitted she realized it was bad, saying the situation got away from her as she works long hours out of town – and that it’s hard to find good help.
According to Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher, the law doesn’t necessarily protect someone who has good intentions.
Punches is charged with 65 counts of second-degree animal cruelty, alleging at the very least she knowingly allowed them to live in conditions that caused unnecessary pain.
She is also charged with one violation of another state law regarding dog breeding: keeping more than 10 dogs who are able to reproduce in enclosures without meeting certain conditions regarding sanitation, lighting, fire safety measures, protection from extreme temperatures, and being kept separate from other animals with whom they’re not compatible.
All are misdemeanors with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail or a $5,000 fine or both.
Three of the foxhounds are survivors of the December 2007 flood when Punches lost her home and 16 champion show dogs to the Chehalis River.
A foxhound named Hawk saved himself, while two of them were five-week-old pups she placed in a styrofoam shipping container when floodwaters inside her home rose to within inches of her ceiling. Punches nearly lost her own life as well.
Punches said last month she refused an offer from the Lewis County Animal Shelter in which she could get back four of the dogs if they were fixed as long as she signed away rights to the rest of the dogs. She said they are valuable to the breed.
Punches couldn’t be reached for comment this weekend.
Charging documents describe that on the day the animals were confiscated, a deputy could not see the floor of some kennels because the water, mud and feces was so deep.
A veterinarian there that day said the unsanitary conditions subjected the animals to contagious viral and bacterial diseases which would or could cause considerable suffering, according to the charging documents.
The documents also allege the following:
In the indoor kennel building, the deputy found four dogs standing on top of garbage, mud and feces.
In one pen, eight nine-week-old puppies had no overhead shelter, and appeared very thin. Four of them were lethargic, one had diarrhea and one was dead.
The veterinarian at Pasado’s Safe Haven noted several of the dogs had minor wounds and she saw signs of signs of abuse, including a strong fear of humans.
Punches had described some of them as “unsocialized”.
Lewis County does not require kennels to be licensed but does prohibit individuals from keeping more than 50 unaltered dogs, although there is no limit on the number of puppies.
State law requires breeders with more than 10 unaltered dogs to meet certain conditions.
For background, read: “Aged flood survivor loses her stock of prize-winning canines for the second time” from Sunday October 21, 2012, here