Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19632
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Thursday, Oct 6, 2011

County: King

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Margaret Ann Hamilton

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

In what was described as "animal hoarding, King County detectives and animal control officers raided a Burien house last night about 6:15 p.m. and seized 38 Chihuahua, Pomeranian, and Chin dogs. All were in relatively poor health and kept in extremely dirty dog crates. Fourteen were immediately taken to a veterinarian's office and nine were euthanized.

A man at the Burien residence said the majority of the dogs were his, and claimed some were show dogs.

More dogs were later found at an Issaquah residence.

Detectives and animal control officer subsequently served a search warrant at a residence in the 5900 block of 189th Ave SE and found another 62 dogs. These animals were in relatively good health and in clean crates, but due to the condition of the house, the dogs were taken by Regional Animal Services of King County, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The investigation into the Burien residence began after the Sheriff's Office was contacted by Pasado's Safe Haven. They received a tip about conditions at the house and gathered additional information. That, coupled with the investigation by the Sheriff's Office, led to a search warrant.

Burien detectives and Sheriff's Office detectives were assisted by Burien's Community Animal Resource and Education Society (CARES), as well as Regional Animal Services of King County, which sent six officers and a vet technician to assist at the Issaquah location.

"This was a very quick and coordinated effort by all involved", said Burien Police Chief Scott Kimerer. "My thanks to Burien's CARES staff, the Sheriff Office, and Regional Animal Services of King County personnel. Everyone worked well into the night on this investigation," he added.

Debra George, Director of CARES of Burien explained that the dogs are receiving proper care and will need homes. She also said, "Our first concern is the health and well-being of the dogs, so all of them are being checked out and treated at local veterinary offices. We want to thank everyone who helped out in this trying situation".

The Sheriff's Office investigation into both locations is continuing. So far there have been no arrests but felony and/or misdemeanor charges are said possible.

Some of the dogs will be available for adoption at CARES of Burien.


Case Updates

An Issaquah dog show judge and Chihuahua breeder accused of starving and neglecting dozens of dogs has been charged with animal cruelty.

King County prosecutors contend Margaret Ann Hamilton horded 100 breeding and show dogs housed in squalid conditions at homes in Burien and Issaquah.

Following a tip from an animal welfare group, King County Sheriff's Office animal control officers raided the homes and discovered the dogs living in stacked animal carriers covered in feces and hair.

Writing the court, King County Sheriff's Office Detective John K. Pavlovich suggested Hamilton and her now-deceased husband was hording animals. All of the dogs recovered had been bred or bought by Hamilton and her husband as show dogs.

"Hoarding is likely a factor in what was occurring as the Hamiltons were clearly unable to part with dogs that they had collected over the years, even after the dogs were past show or breeding age," the detective told the court.

In September, an anonymous caller told staff at Pasado's Safe Haven animal shelter Hamilton, 69, was hording dogs at a Burien home owned by her brother-in-law. The caller told the animal welfare organization the malnourished, filthy dogs were kept in the dark basement at all hours.

According to charging documents, two Pasado's Safe Haven employees then illegally entered the Burien home through an unlocked door and discovered several dogs locked in small animal carriers.

"There were approximately 30 to 40 small dogs, stacked in filthy crates," Pavlovich told the court, recalling the women's statements to police. "Most of the dogs had no food or water in the crates and many displayed what (the women) described as 'neurotic behavior,' such as circling repeatedly in the small crates."

They shot a short video of the scene and left. The detective noted the Pasado's Safe Haven employees also visited Hamilton's Issaquah home, where they reported smelling "a strong odor of feces" and hearing multiple dogs barking inside the home.

Having been contacted by the anti-animal cruelty workers, King County Sheriff's Office and Burien animal control officers launched an investigation in early October.

Speaking with investigators, the Burien home's owner - a kennel operator since at least the early 1980s, and former purebred breeder - claimed only four Chihuahuas were in the home, Pavlovich told the court. Investigators obtained a search warrant two days later.

Investigators arrived at the home to find 38 dogs housed in travel crates, the detective continued. Thirteen were found to urgently need medical care; some dogs were so badly malnourished their jaw bones were decomposing or completely gone.

The conditions matched those described by Pasado's Safe Haven workers, according to charging documents. Pavlovich noted the smell of animal waste was overpowering.

"It was so bad that protective face masks were necessary," Pavlovich told the court. "Several detectives and (animal control) officers reported they were ill for several days after the service of the warrant."

Of the 38 dogs recovered from the home, 13 were put down due to severe injuries stemming from months of neglect, according to charging documents. The detective noted all the euthanized dogs "appeared to be in pain … and the extent of their medical issues was such that (a veterinarian) could not effectively treat them."

Interviewed by police, Hamilton's husband said he and his wife were using the basement as a shelter for old breeding or show dogs, and that he owned most of the dogs for their entire lives, according to charging documents. He allegedly went on to say he has a "problem" parting with them.

The man went on to admit that he had 25 to 30 dogs at the Issaquah home, Pavlovich told the court. Investigators obtained and served a search warrant later that day.

Arriving at the scene, investigators noted signs of hoarding - extensive clutter and debris strewn throughout the property, as well as items stacked floor to ceiling in every room of the house.

According to charging documents, officers retrieved 62 dogs from the home. Most were stored in carriers in the living room.

Pavlovich noted four dogs were found in a van parked in the home's garage.

"Margi Hamilton had hidden them there prior to our arrival because she planned on showing them at a dog show in Enumclaw over the upcoming weekend and feared that we would be taking them," the detective told the court.

Twelve of the dogs removed from the home were rushed to a veterinary hospital in need of immediate care. One - Foster - was euthanized following the search.

The detective noted Hamilton continued to claim she was properly caring for the dogs while officers were removing them from her home.

Hamilton's husband was found dead of natural causes three weeks after the dogs were removed from both homes.

Hamilton has been charged with two counts of second-degree animal cruelty. She has not been jailed, though she has been prohibited from owning animals until the allegations are resolved.
Source: Seattle PI
Update posted on May 13, 2012 - 1:33PM 

References

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