Case Snapshot
Case ID: 14614
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: horse, cow
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Prosecutor(s): Allison Hewitt

For more information about the Interactive Animal Cruelty Maps, see the map notes.

Thursday, Jul 31, 2008

County: Benton

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Alleged

» Bonnie Schwabrow
» Connie Lawyer

Case Updates: 3 update(s) available

Bonnie Schwabrow of Kennewick lost possession of 23 horses and nine head of cattle Thursday when Benton County sheriff's deputies, with help from a few cowboys and cowgirls, rescued the poorly kept livestock from hot and dusty fields in Finley.

Members of an animal rescue group led by Shawna Byington of Kennewick followed deputies to a property near Riek and Morton roads where a bull, heifers, calves, stallions and mares were seized that reportedly belonged to Schwabrow.

Schwabrow, 47, who rented the property, was cited for animal cruelty and allowing the livestock to run at large, said sheriff's Lt. Brian White.

Deputies said they have repeatedly warned Schwabrow about not keeping the livestock confined to the property and not providing adequate care.

"We've been out there a number of times and issued several warnings," said Sgt. Rick Welch.

He said the cows and horses have been seen on or near Riek Road, which is being reconstructed as the final leg for the Finley Intertie from Highway 395. He said having a large animal loose near traffic is a safety issue.

Deputies obtained a search warrant Thursday before allowing Byington and the volunteers to round up the animals.

Schwabrow could not be reached for comment, but several people could be seen talking with deputies as the animals were rounded up.

Byington said the number of animals was one of the largest she has seen in such a seizure. The horses, which include five stallions, will be kept at her Lazy Spur Ranch in Kennewick. She said the cows and bull will go to Prosser, where a rancher has offered to provide secure pasture and care.

Rosemary Corn, a neighbor, said the animals were brought in about two months ago.

Public records show that Morrow County, Ore., authorities recently completed a similar animal cruelty case in circuit court, where Schwabrow's sister pleaded guilty and was fined $1,500. Morrow County court records show Connie Lawyer was charged with second-degree animal neglect involving livestock.

Steve Myren, Morrow County undersheriff, said there were "a substantial number of complaints" about Lawyer having animals at large, not providing proper care and extreme overgrazing of pasture.

Myren said once charges were filed, the pigs, horses and cows began to disappear. "We didn't have any idea where they went," he said.

The Herald was unable to find Lawyer, but a relative in Boardman said Lawyer and Schwabrow had moved to somewhere in Washington and they didn't know how to reach them.

Myren said, "I consider these kinds of folks to be animal hoarders. They truly believe there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. They love the animals and even known them by name."

Case Updates

Two sisters accused of animal neglect and not keeping their horses and cows fenced in Finley have been ordered to stay away from the animals that are under protective care of Benton County authorities.

Bonnie Schwabrow and Connie Lawyer were in district court this week when the judge assigned them public defense attorneys and imposed a stay-away order to keep them from driving by a boarding facility or asking about the animals.

Deputy Prosecutor Allison Hewitt said the judge told the women not to try to contact the caregivers or drive by where the animals are being kept.

Court records say county officials found little to no water and not enough hay to sustain the horses, cows and bull when they visited the property in Finley in July.

Schwabrow, 47, of Finley, and Lawyer of Oregon face misdemeanor criminal charges.
Source: Tri-City Herald - Sept 25, 2008
Update posted on Sep 25, 2008 - 10:55PM 
Two sisters who own two dozen horses, a bull and eight cows pleaded innocent Friday to charges of not providing essential care and not keeping their livestock fenced in.

But Benton County authorities who seized the animals nearly two months ago are eager to find someone to adopt the homeless horses and cows.

Bonnie Schwabrow, 47, of Finley, and Connie Lawyer of Oregon face misdemeanor criminal charges and have court-appointed attorneys. But they have hired another attorney to fight for custody of the horses, bull and cows, said Allison Hewitt, deputy prosecutor.

The county's bill for boarding and feeding the sisters' livestock has topped $15,000 since sheriff's deputies and some hired cowboys rounded up the herd July 31 from a pasture near Riek and Morton roads in Finley.

Sheriff's Capt. Steve Keane said it is costing about $10 a day per horse just to provide enough hay for the sisters' animals.

"It's costing us a fortune," Keane said.

Most of it is because of the high cost of hay, but there also have been veterinarian and farrier costs.

"It's all adding up, but we have a duty to care for them" he said.

Some citizens want to help, but Lt. Brian White said the county can't accept donations of hay or the offer of free pasture. People who want to help the horses and cows can give money instead.

In addition, Keane said each horse has to be health certified by having a blood test before being adopted out to ensure that it doesn't have equine infectious anemia.

Court records say county officials found little to no water and not enough hay to sustain the horses, cows and bull when they visited the property in Finley in July.
Source: Tri-City Herald - Sept 20, 2008
Update posted on Sep 25, 2008 - 10:54PM 
A Kennewick woman charged with failing to keep her livestock fenced in last month in Finley will be accused of not giving her horses proper feed, water and essential care.

Bonnie Schwabrow was in Benton County District Court on Wednesday to answer an earlier charge alleging failure to fence in her animals.

On Wednesday, a Benton County proseuctor said she will face two new charges involving failing to keep livestock fenced in and not providing essential care, both misdemeanors. Schwabrow is scheduled for a hearing on the new charges Sept. 19.

She requested a jury trial on the original charge with a Sept. 24 hearing.

The three charges stem from cases investigated by a Benton County sheriff's deputy July 16 and July 31 at a pasture near Riek and Morton roads.

Twenty-three horses, eight cows and one bull were seized July 31.

Schwabrow claims to own the horses, while she and her sister, Connie Lawyer, of Oregon, co-own the cattle, according to court documents.

Lawyer is charged with not keeping the cattle fenced in, which is a misdemeanor. The seized animals have been placed temporarily at locations where they can be fed, watered and tended to, said Jenny L. Johnson, deputy prosecuting attorney.

The locations are not being revealed to lessen the chance of someone trying to steal them, said Airn Reining, the sheriff's deputy handling the investigation.

"We hope to adopt the horses out," Johnson said, but first they need some immediate care.

"The charges are unbelieveable," said Schwabrow in a phone call to the Herald Wednesday evening.

She said the county told her she would have to pay $4,000 to reimburse costs to the county in seizing and caring for the animals if she wants them back.

Johnson said there are immediate care issues for some of the horses.

Three mares are going to foal "any day now," and several horses need to have hoof care and shoes, Johnson said.

Reining said donations of hay, worming medicine and the assistance of a farrier is needed.

People can offer assistance by calling Johnson at 735-3591.

"We can't ignore the health issues (for the animals). And this is all on the county," Johnson said, noting that Schwabrow hasn't offered to help financially or indicated whether she will try to get the horses back.

Court records on the misdemeanor charges for both women show that there were 25 bales of hay at the property in Finley to feed the 32 animals when Reining checked July 16.

Fifteen days later, 11 bales remained from that pile of hay, which indicated the horses and cattle were getting far less than the eight bales a day Schwabrow said she was providing.

There also was "little or no water," court documents said.

A certified horse evaluator looked at the animals after they were seized, finding that three were "very thin" and three others were thin, according to court records.

Johnson said Lawyer has a conviction in Oregon for neglect and cruelty involving the same horses that Benton County authorities have seized from Schwabrow.

"A Washington state investigator is involved and has a hold on the animals," Johnson said.
Source: Tri-City Herald - Aug 28, 2008
Update posted on Sep 25, 2008 - 10:53PM 


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