Olympia blaze might lead to animal-cruelty charges

Crowded house: 20 animals lived there; survivors at rescues, Animal Services

ckrotzer@theolympian.comSeptember 9, 2012 

An Olympia woman whose house caught fire last week could face animal-cruelty charges.

A fire broke out at the DeHart Drive home Wednesday morning, causing an estimated $30,000 in damage and killing several animals. The cause was under investigation.

The scene was “not biologically safe” for fire crews without a proper breathing apparatus because of the amount of animal feces, according to Animal Services.

The number of items in the home made it difficult for crews to move around, said Animal Services officer Ray Spragg, who responded to the scene.

“It was a mix of furniture and beds and cages and Christmas statues and just what one might typically find in a hoarding-type environment,” he said.

“Small pathways from room to room.”

The owner has been known to Animal Services since last year, when officers were called to the address for a welfare check.

“We didn’t have enough evidence to get in, and she would not let us in to check things,” Spragg said. “We had our suspicions.”

He said there were 10 dogs, eight birds, a cat and a pot-bellied pig in the home. One of the dogs and seven of the birds died at the scene. The cat and one of the dogs have not been found.

The other dogs were taken to two Yelm-area animal rescues, Gurrs and Purrs and Cornucopia Animal Rescue, by request of the owner.

They were all “severely flea-infested,” Spragg said.

The pot-bellied pig was turned over to Animal Services. Staff members there call her “Penny Pig.”

“She is pretty sweet as far as pigs go,” Spragg said.

The pig was treated at South Bay Veterinary Hospital for smoke inhalation.

The pig is only slightly underweight, but Animal Services director Suzanne Beauregard was more concerned about its hooves and skin.

“They are very bad,” she said.

As a volunteer filled the pig’s makeshift pool in a pen behind the Animal Services building, it walked up to her, curly tail wagging.

The pig’s hooves extended several inches out, and its dry skin was beginning to peel off in large pieces.

Beauregard said both issues are from neglect. She said she planned to fix the pig’s hooves while it is getting spayed, but that will depend on whether the pig’s lungs can handle the anesthesia.

Spragg said it looked as though the pig had lived for years in the upstairs room where it was found.

He plans to forward the case to the Olympia Prosecutor’s Office.

Spragg said the owner has other animals at a Lacey address and plans to also have the Yelm shelters take those animals.


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