Lewis County officials working to save Hank the dog, and modernize code

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at 6:48 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Lewis County leaders have changed the rules once and now they are prepared to do it again to avoid euthanizing a dog that was condemned under a set of strict procedures regarding animals that kill a domestic animal or severely injure a human.

Hank the pit bull terrier who remains impounded at the Lewis County Animal Shelter is at the center of a controversy in which his supporters say he was wrongly designated a dangerous dog after he was implicated with his mother in killing two goats last year in Winlock. He was just a puppy and his mother was the actual attacker, they say.

2017.0531.tankimpoundedjuly2016small

Tank, now Hank

Under Lewis County code, there was no option other than death for the canine, once his original owner decided she couldn’t meet the county demands including an escape-proof enclosure and a $500,000 bond. However, unbeknownst to most county officials, the dog was spirited out of the shelter because “there was a feeling it wasn’t really dangerous.”

His name was changed from Tank to Hank and the 2-year-old was adopted to a Centralia family unaware of his background. Jann Propp-Estimo described the dog she met at the shelter in January as just wagging his tail with a stuffed toy in his mouth, the only dog there not barking. Shelter Manager Amy Hanson had written in a message trying to persuade a rescue group to take him, that he continued to be a polite sweet dog at all times.

Hank lived with Propp-Estimo and then her son and grandson until May, when the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office and the Board of (Lewis) County Commissioners learned what had occurred and he was impounded again.

Criminal charges were filed against Hanson and her boss, Danette York, but have been put on hold in a case that is being handled by the Pacific County Prosecutor’s Office.

Commissioners, working with Lewis County Civil Deputy Prosecutor David Fine, approved an amendment to the dangerous dog ordinance that allowed Propp-Estimo to ask a Lewis County District Court judge to erase the label of dangerous, through allowing consideration of new evidence including present behavior. That effort failed in June, was appealed and has been upheld.

Now, county commissioners and Fine are contemplating another amendment which basically says, even if a dog meets the definition of a dangerous animal, Lewis County District Court has other options besides ordering the dog to be put down.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said today the proposed change is not because of any predicament the county finds itself in, having adopted the pet out to a family and then taking it back. Propp-Estimo and Bellingham animal lawyer Adam Karp have a case seeking relief in federal court.

“I think everyone agrees, no one wants to kill the dog,” Meyer said.

The code amendment would allow District Court other avenues, he said.

Board of (Lewis) County Commissioners Chair Gary Stamper said the idea is a more flexible code going forward. Times and attitudes towards pets have changed, he said.

“People had the idea we wanted the dog euthanized,” Stamper said. “That’s not the case.”

In early August, a dozen individuals stood outside the Historic Lewis County Courthouse, holding up “Honk for Hank” signs and showing their support. They brought commissioners signatures they said were from more than 148,000 people who wanted to save the pit bull terrier. Meyer today spoke of getting a phone call from someone in another state about Hank.

A public hearing on the proposed code changes will be held at 10 a.m. on Oct. 2 in the same building, where commissioners hold their meetings. People can share their opinions at that time, in person and also in writing.

Ordinance 1280 would amend Chapter 6.05, “Animals,” of the Lewis County code because, “the public interest is best served by permitting a District Court judge, in a limited circumstance, to permit a dangerous dog not to be euthanized.”

The greater discretion it would give a Lewis County District Court judge includes the judge may rule that an animal that harbors a potential to, or is even likely to harm people or domestic animals, can be released to a party to the action. The judge can order it to be housed and maintained under specified conditions subject to proof of compliance.

If adopted, it could be enacted immediately.

“We knew there were some errors, we tried to right the ship as quick as possible,” Stamper said.
•••

For background, read “Higher court agrees with Judge Buzzard’s order that dog should be euthanized” from Friday September 8, 2017, here

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82 Responses to “Lewis County officials working to save Hank the dog, and modernize code”

  1. Lisa bowers says:

    I pray that hank gets returned safe to his loving family. I have seen the photos and videos and i don’t believe he is dangerous at all. Poor baby is probably scared to death and so depressed being locked up like that. Shame Shame Shame on the court in lewis county and them charging all that money for bond just shows how much those idiots are just on a search for money. Prayers for hank and his family

  2. annette yates says:

    Why would you kill an innocent dog?

  3. Annette Haworth says:

    I’ve been a supporter an avid prayer for Hank. Hank is such a sweet boy and is totally being misjudged by ol Judge Buzzard. What gives that old fart the right to not look at evidence and just deem Hank as dangerous? Not only have I written numerous comments, but you also need to call ol Buzzards office and tell him personally what you think.
    His phone # is 1-360-740-1200
    PLZ PLZ PLZ CALL HIS OFFICE AND BOMBARD HIS VOICEMAIL TELL THAT HIRED OFFICIAL HE NEEDS TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND GIVE THIS SWEET BOY BACK TO THEIR FAMILY!

  4. Tanja Hartner says:

    My Name is Tanja, I live in Germany and I’m One of 170.000 supporters Worldwide in the Petition Help Save Hank, and One of nearly 80.000 supporters Worldwide in the Petition Allow Hank’s Family Contact Visits. Also I support bis Facebook Page Help Save Hank with Thousands others supporters Worldwide! Hank is wrongly labeled dangerous! He is the Innocent victim of a miscarriage of Justice!! I am upset and very sad how willfully the Judges Mr Edwards and Mr Buzzard and the prosecutor Mr.J.Meier ignored bis innocense!! There are Videos and Pictures of the Police that Show definatly that Hank is innocent!! Also Hank passed a Temperament Test!! He Never bit or showed aggression!!He did nothing wrong! I think they should al least Visit poor Hank in his lonely prison, and see him interact with his loving and heart broken family. The 9 year old grandson is Hank’s best buddy, He misses him so much.They Justiz Hank Every das since 6 !!! Montag.. .nur cannot hug him!! The whole family suffers under this unnessessary ongoing Stress and injustice!! Please allow contact visits and Free innocent Hank NOW!! He is god’s creature and you can NOT kill him for NO!!! reason. He deserves Justice and at least a Judge who Sees the truth-an Innocent dog- Hank should immediately be released to his family !! You can visit Facebook and Look at the Videos of Poor Hank, he is lovely and goodminded. He needs bis family NOW!! Free Hank <3

  5. Trish Tucker says:

    Someone get a hold of Tia Torres Leah Lobos in Louisiana she will save your dog

  6. Kimberly Guarneri says:

    This case is getting so stupid on the judges part, that he should be removed from the bench!
    FREE HANK LET HIM GO HOME!
    This judge is acting ridiculous and it seems like no matter what evidence he is given proving Hank is not a dangerous dog or did he commit the crime is has been accused and sentenced to death by this unfair judge. It seems that this judge will not admit he made a bad an unfair verdict, nor it seems this judge is willing to use the new ordinances that the county has tried twice to put in effect specifically for saving Hank’s life.
    If the voters in this county don’t remember this come next election and those in power to do the right thing in this case,..which would be too.(FREE HANK TODAY!)
    so those with the power to fix this case, Please do the right thing and step up to the plate and
    FREE HANK FREE HANK FREE HANK
    stop this bullshit case and let this poor family have their best friend back home with them it makes me & thousands around the country and world SICK that this case is still not concluded and Hank is Not Free Yet!

  7. LuAnne Mosansky says:

    I am praying that once…just once. something good can happen that will prove to me and countless others that we, as a human species still have a shred of common decency, compassion, empathy, a sense of right and wrong. This case should never have gone this far. Its beyond crazy. This dog needs to be sent home .

  8. Amy Brown says:

    I have been following this story from Texas and have donated to Hank’s legal fund. Has anyone looked into the judge’s background to see why he is so prejudiced against Hank? Was he afraid of dogs as a child, had a bad encounter with a dog, does he own livestock? If you can prove that he is biased against Hank, the case could get thrown out or at least given to a more sympathetic, reasonable judge. The judge (unless he is close to retirement) will want to be re-appointed when his term ends. Lines of Hank supporters protesting at the courthouse would be bad PR for him and jeopardize his career as a judge.

  9. Janet Smith says:

    This dog does not sound dangerous at all. Let him live his life.

  10. Christine stoudnor says:

    The employees of the shelter were abiding by the spirit of the law. Their jobs are to help animals get adopted
    But their job does also require to keep the public safe. Tbecdhelter should hire a full time dog behaviorist/trainer or at least a part time behaviorist/trainer to work with dogs in this situation. The two female employees should be given a warning and extra training. And the new owners of “Tank” aka “Hank” apparently ate very committed to him and should be allowed to keep him with the information that the must keep him leashed or in an enclosed yard. And the dog should undergo training.

    Do not let the dog sit in the shelter any longer. Let him go home and have the new owners abide by the rules of responsible dog guardianship and work with a dog behaviorist /trainer.

    The employees abiding by the spirit of what the agency of animal care & control are about should not be punished. Hank should not be punished and Hank’s family should not be punished.

    This would be the fairest and most humane ruling and resolution for all involved.

  11. Sandra Glavey says:

    Save Hank! He is a friendly, gentle dog. I think everyone had just misjudged him!! I support him and I pray he goes back to his family real soon!!!

  12. Sandy says:

    Wtf is wrong with the justice system?? Someone come up with a way to steal the poor thing and give him back the love of his family

  13. Bob Chandley says:

    From over the pond it appears some common sense is just required and a little kindness to the dog!?Appears not guilty of any offence?

  14. Dr Gringo says:

    Sigh…I’m NOT advocating that Hank be euthanized, so let me try this again:

    I’m saying that IF Hank was to attack someone in the future (not “when,” but “if”) and the person on the receiving end successfully sued the County afterwards, taxpayers would be responsible for paying the damages. That’s a whole lot different than saying a dog should be put to sleep. SMH.

  15. Gay Frogs says:

    The Fluoride capitol of the world has made main stream news. Lets see how well the good ole boyz hold up.

  16. Leslie Stanga says:

    Dr. Gringo- You are incorrectly assuming that Hank is a dangerous dog and may attack someone. Hank has NEVER harmed a human being or an animal. Just because a judge has designated him as dangerous does not make it so. The judges are ignoring testimony of Hank’s innocence from the FAMILY THAT OWNED THE GOATS! Hank’s mother killed the goats and should be designated as dangerous. I think everyone would agree on that. But Hank DID NOT harm them. What’s even more amazing is that Hank DID NOT follow his mother’s lead. If you know about pack behavior, if one attacks, they all may attack. But dash cam video shows that Hank did not attack. That’s how passive he is. Furthermore, there was not a speck of blood on him. It seems you are most concerned about money…who’s going to pay…yada yada yada. Well, sometimes justice is more important than money. So is an innocent life.

  17. Velaine Paryzek says:

    Please let Hank go home to his family.

  18. iris Lambka says:

    First there was Tony in Arizona killed and now Hank What is wrong with the judicial system in this country I pray he survives . Very very sad,

  19. Susan Komidor says:

    From Covington Louisiana and it seems the nation is watching the case at a high alert level! It would’ve the right thing to do in light of the facts brought forward to let Hank go home and be safe with his family.
    The owners of the goats have properly informed all parties this dog had nothing to do their demise, let Hank go!!!!!

  20. Marie Boyd says:

    This has been a cruel joke. The higher level of government pull this behavior all the time, but now the world is up in arms because of him. This dog has suffered for no real cause and to put anymore pain on Why wait till the Oct date and admit this was a illegal case and assist the family in money that they have had to put out to prove Hank was not aggressive.

  21. pamela says:

    I have been following hank also. this would be wonderful and hank can be home with his family bigtime

  22. Choi mein says:

    Blee bloo/Dr.Gringo: these two i think has a great hatred/envy towards J.P.Estimo’s family everytime they commented is always against them..Let JUSTICE prevail.FREE HANK..FREE HANK..Christmas time is coming..u two..do not do unto others what u do not want others do unto u..

  23. Diane says:

    I have been praying for this dog and his family for so long. This is such a heartbreaking situation. This dog is innocent and yet he remains impounded while his family is in agony. I know how I would feel if this were my dog. I’d be devastated as they are. I feel this dog is being treated unjustly because of his breed. This is unfortunate because I have known many pit bulls that live in loving, compassionate homes. They are loving, loyal companions. If a dog is abused and mistreated continuously, it will be a vicious dog. It does not need to be a pit bull. This would happen to any breed. Hank is treated with love and kindness and is a loving, loyal member of this family. Please, everyone, pray for Hank and his family. Pray that he can go home so they can all live their lives in peace. There is a young child in this family whose heart is broken. Please let this child have is dog back.

  24. Stacy says:

    Dr. Gringo, Life is more important than money. This rule is to allow for dogs who are wrongly convicted, like Hank, or other dogs who have injured an animal but not trying to to have an option. People overreact and say a dog attacked them walking down the street. Half of the time, the dog only ran up and barked at them. Should that dog who was accused of attacking wrongly die too? Do we sentence every murderer to death row? People’s dogs are their families. They are our children. Should we murder children for getting in fist fights with other kids or should we give them the option of learning and growing? Have a heart. As far as your money concerns go, governments waste all kinds of money. Rein in the waste and you would have a surplus.

  25. Stacy says:

    I hope that the Federal court sees the evidence that Hank was innocent the whole time. He shouldn’t even have to follow compliance rules since he did nothing wrong. The important thing is he goes home….even under strict guidelines which I hope aren’t so strict as to limit his ability to enjoy life and exploring the world on leash, etc. I would prefer he be found not guilty, which is what should happen. BleeBoo-to say people shouldn’t get upset over one dog and just go adopt a dog is messed up. Every dog is special. Every dog has their own personality, just like people. Every dog matters. If your family member was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death, wouldn’t you fight for them? The same goes for Hank! I agree that too many dogs are murdrered simply because they are homeless. They deserve better too. Adopt. Spay and Neuter. Don’t support breeders. These are all things we can do to save lives. Save Hank! He deserves to go home to his loving family!!!!!!!

  26. BleeBloo says:

    Do you people realize how many unwanted pets are euthanized every year? You’re losing your sh*t over a single dog. If you’re so passionate about saving dogs, go to the pound and adopt one before they euthanize it.

  27. Tom Estimo jr says:

    If Hank wete a human being and accused of this offense with all the evidence presented he would surely be exonerated by any court after all witnesses were allowed to testify. Numerous charges would be brought against the district attorney, the judges, the state, etc. People would then see the injustice of this affair. Please make the right judgment and set hank free. He is being unjustly accused and it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt he is INNOCENT!!
    FREE HANK NOW!

  28. PATRICIA DITTO says:

    PLEASE FREE HANK. EUTHENIZING HIM WOULD BE LIKE U BE COMITTIING MURDER..COS THAT’S WHAT U WOULD BE DOING IF U DO THAT. HE’S INNOCENT. DID NOTHING WRONG. JUST SEND HIM HOME ALREADY. THE DOG NEEDS TO BE HOME WITH HIS FAMILY FOR GODSAKE. HOW WOULD U LIKE IF IT WERE UR KID.

  29. Dr Gringo says:

    “How will lewis county taxpayers be protected from liability if the dog attacks or kills someone?”

    That’s a fair question that nobody here seems to be willing to address, but I will: I can’t think of anything that would protect us in that event any more than we’re protected from liability in Ms. Propp-Estimo’s $250,000 claim against the County (i.e., the taxpayers) in this case. Where else does one think the money would come from if she wins that judgment?

  30. Mike says:

    If only animal cruelty laws were enforced so strictly…..seems a human can torture an animal and only get a slap on the wrist!

  31. Jessica says:

    The misconduct and hatred surrounding Hank and the case is disgusting – and is a gross reflection on today’s justice system. There seems to be genuine hatred towards Hank when clearly evidence, which was purposefully ignored, was presented that supported the fact that Hank did nothing wrong.
    I would never move to this town after reading how this case has been handled. The judge should be reprimanded for being unbiased, which is his job.
    The abuse this poor dog has suffered at the hands of a human is no better than him being beaten. Please save Hank from this injustice!!!

    Pit bulls are not the problem … people are!!

  32. Susan Komidor says:

    I am a supporter and I pray that all goes back to normal for this family’s and Hank . I pray that his life is saved. Amen

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