When a Seattle Animal Shelter team walked into a home to investigate an animal cruelty complaint in October, it found caged animals in nearly every room, and the floor was covered in hay and animal feces. In some rooms, police found animals that appeared to have died from lack of food, water and medical attention. The team rescued more than 220 live animals, including dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, mice and chinchillas. Animal cruelty cases in Seattle’s King County, like cases in other categories of crime such as homicides, domestic violence and shootings, have increased this year, raising concern among law enforcement and animal agencies.
In 2018, county prosecutors filed 10 animal cruelty cases and in 2019, the office filed nine. As of Monday, prosecutors had filed 19 so far in 2020, including 12 counts of first-degree felony animal cruelty. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tali Smith expects several more cases in the coming weeks. Last year, many of the cases included neglect, usually a misdemeanor, but cases this year have involved much more direct violence against animals. Cases this year have involved dragging a cat with a bike, covering a dog’s head in duct tape, drowning a cat, and strangling a dog and killing a Canada goose. Two felony animal fighting charges include one man who had 91 roosters he was allegedly using for cockfighting. “My guess is that the pandemic has been hard on a lot of people, both in terms of their resources (and) their mental health,” Smith said. “And so it’s kind of a pressure-cooker situation. You have people that are angry (and) they’re at home a lot. That anger can be taken out on an animal.”