By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Nancy Punches pleaded not guilty today to keeping too many dogs in too poor of conditions on her property west of Chehalis and is working with a lawyer to get four of her foxhounds returned to her.
The 79-year-old Dryad woman was in Lewis County District Court this morning where she faces 65 counts of second-degree animal cruelty and one count of violating a state law regarding dog breeding.
Her 65 dogs were confiscated by county officials last month; animals which were living in an area overrun with feces, according to authorities. One puppy was dead when the sheriff’s office served their search warrant and at least three puppies have since been euthanized because of positive tests for Parvo Virus. Others were sick with a parasite, according to charging documents.
Punches has said in an interview she didn’t intend for the foxhounds to multiply, but their fencing had deteriorated. She has also said she knew the situation got away from her.
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.
Punches has agreed to give up ownership of all but those three dogs plus one other, a 9-year-old male named Rythem, according to court documents.
Her lawyer Bart Ricks of Chehalis noted in a petition to the court that Lewis County Animal Shelter Amy Hanson had offered to return three of the dogs – spayed and neutered – if Punches relinquished the rest.
The civil action filed on Nov. 2 says Punches wants the four foxhounds returned to her immediately, subject to certain conditions which aren’t specified.
Court hearings are set for Dec. 6 and Dec. 20. when the lawyers and judge can begin addressing the issues involved.
Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Nelson asked the judge the consolidate the civil and criminal cases.
In a court document filed today, Nelson asks for answers from Punches about how she will prove her property is free of the diseases, how she will provide kennels fit for habitation and how she will not neglect or abuse the dogs if she gets them back.
Nelson said he didn’t ask Judge Michael Roewe to set bail for Punches, as he doesn’t consider her a flight risk or a danger to the community.
The crimes she’s accused of are misdemeanors, all with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail or a $5,000 fine or both.
One of the conditions set today however allows her to keep only two pets, which Judge Roewe said were a cat and a bird.
When county code enforcement employees, animal shelter workers and volunteers descended upon the River Road property on Oct. 19, a deputy said he could not see the floor of some kennels because the water, mud and feces was so deep.
Two of the 65 seized animals are fox terriers – the rest foxhounds.
Some were taken to the Lewis County Animal Shelter, some to other municipal shelters and some to Pasado’s Safe Haven in Snohomish County.
Besides Rythem, Punches wants back Hawk, a 7-year-old male; along with 6-year-olds Spirit, a female, and Noah, a male who were pups that shared a 36-hour ordeal trapped in Punches’ mobile home as flood waters rose to within inches of her ceiling.
Punches floated upon a tipped-over antique bookcase after placing her five-week-old dogs inside a styrofoam shipping container.
For background, read:
• “Lewis County owner of seized foxhounds charged with 66 misdemeanors” from Monday November 12, 2012, here
• “Aged flood survivor loses her stock of prize-winning canines for the second time” from Sunday October 21, 2012, here