Prosecutor: Lewis County employees broke rules regarding seized dog

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer says a dog deemed dangerous by the county and impounded to the animal shelter which ought to have been euthanized was instead adopted out to a family who weren’t told of its background.

“His name was changed, the true nature of the dog was hidden and he was adopted out,” Meyer said. “There was a feeling it wasn’t really dangerous.”

The prosecutor was summarizing the sequence of events to the Lewis County Board of Commissioners earlier this week and advised he planned to ask an outside prosecutor to look into the actions of two county employees. He did not name the employees.

He noted there is no provision under the law to declassify a dangerous dog.

Meyer said he asked the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office to investigate. That took place last week, according to sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dusty Breen.

The canine was brought to the shelter last July 1 after it and another dog were accused of killing a goat, according to Meyer.

It’s name was Tank and then changed to Hank, and he thought it may have been a pit bull but didn’t know for sure. The dog was adopted out in January. The new owner had given the animal to her grown son and 9-year-old grandson, and they had it for a significant amount of time, Meyer said.

The new owner wanted to keep the dog or be paid for their investment in a fence and the cost of a child’s broken heart, he said. He said they submitted a bill for $3,000.

“They were told they could not keep it and voluntarily relinquished it to the county,” Meyer said.

The meeting on Tuesday was attended by Lewis County Animal Shelter Manager Amy Hanson, her boss Director of Public Health and Social Services Danette York and other personnel with the prosecutor’s office.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg, who is among the county’s civil lawyers who advise county departments, told commissioners he was aware of the situation and was asked in September by the humane officer, the health department and the shelter what the options were for the dog under county code.

He began working on researching the law, he said, but went on family leave, returned to work and went on leave again, he said.

“I didn’t check back with the health department until recently,” Eisenberg said.

The county’s dangerous dog rules are imposed through a process that begins with an incident report from the sheriff’s office, which is forwarded to the county humane officer at Public Health and Social Services. If it’s determined the animal meets the criteria, the owner is served with a declaration their dog is dangerous and given a date for a hearing, which York oversees.

The only way for an owner to be allowed to keep a dangerous dog is to meet costly criteria such as a secure enclosure and extra insurance, Lewis County Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Glenn Carter said.

Meyer reiterated there is no provision declassify this dog and advised commissioners if it bit someone, the county could likely be liable.

At the same time, he hinted there was reason to think this particular dog was wrongly labeled and fell through the cracks.

“In the future, I would hope there would be a more careful analysis of the facts and the dog, before it’s declared dangerous,” he said.

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9 Responses to “Prosecutor: Lewis County employees broke rules regarding seized dog”

  1. BleeBloo, I’m afraid you are very mistaken about Hank. Hank is just like any other household pet in Louis County. From a quantity of people that I’ve heard from Hank is kind, well-mannered, and gentle. That was my experience also. Lewis County doesn’t need to worry about Hank hurting a person — this incident did not involve one person; it was a goat. You needed worry about your precious tax dollars — they won’t be lost because of a Hank attack I can assure you.

  2. adminsharyn says:

    Tank / Hank is at the Lewis County Animal Shelter, in a bit of legal limbo, as i understand it from county authorities … news reporter, sharyn decker

  3. BleeBloo says:

    You people who want them to keep the dog, are you willing to put up your house as collateral? If the dog attacks or kills a family member, I don’t want my taxes going towards a settlement when the family sues the county.

  4. Hank needs to be saved! There’s a 9-year-old boy who is devastated that they took his dog away. Meyer was correct who he stated, “there was reason to think this particular dog was wrongly labeled and fell through the cracks.”

    Hank is a wonderful dog — he’s gentle, loving, kind, and when he licks your face, you know you are loved. He’s so sweet.

    I don’t pretend to know what happened exactly except that I strongly suspect Hank was neglected and left to fend for himself and his original did not stick up for him when it mattered most.

    Set Hank Free!

  5. Jann Propp-Estimo says:

    Help me save Hank! This is not a dangerous dog by any stretch of the imagination. Don’t wait for the future to decide To be more careful in the analysis. Do it now, and set Hank free. That 9-year-old little boy misses his dog!

  6. Debra Parscal says:

    My name is Debra and Tank was my dog which was taken from me and my Family were heartbroken tank is the kindest. Most beloved dog an American terrior. And I can’t believe they cand I can’t believe the sheriff came and took him from us . And then told us that he was euthinized. And he was gone .Now we hear he was adopted which I am happy that tank got to be happy with a family …

    My question is where is Tank ?

  7. G.R. says:

    I mean seriously, there was a goat murder and Meyer put it all on the line to find and prosecute the evil and adorable Hank aka. Tank (street name). This rediculous story would make a good children’s book actually.

  8. G.R. says:

    What a delightful way to spend tax payer money. Chasing after and killing a dog for being a dog. I hope Meyer gets a promotion and a cookie.

  9. Bunch of savages in this town. says:

    Wtf?!?!

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