SEATTLE — A man was arrested Thursday morning in West Seattle’s Delridge area for investigation of animal cruelty.
A member of the Seattle Animal Shelter, along with a Seattle police officer, found more than 200 animals at a home, located in the 5600 block of 26th Avenue Southwest, and an unknown number of dead animals at a second home on the same property after a search warrant was served.
The officer at the scene said they noticed about 25 animals in the first room of the home and they were in small cages the man called “transport” cages. Many of them did not have water or food in their cages as the animal cruelty suspect advised authorities that he had plan to transport them to the East Coast soon.
Police records stated that every room of the home had animals living in cages and that the floors were covered with hay, animal feces and animal food.
Authorities also noticed two animals inside cages that appeared to had recently died, according to police records.
There were animal skeletons in a structure behind the home, one in a cage and the other on the floor, according to police records.
Police records stated an estimated 75 animal skeletons were located in the animal cruelty suspect’s other home next door.
Officials with animal control said they believe the animals might have died from a lack of food, water and medical attention.
Ann Graves, the animal shelter’s director, described the scene as one of the most severe cases of animal neglect and cruelty she has seen in her 20-year career.
The recovered animals include dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas.
The animals retrieved from the property include:
128 guinea pigs
3 guinea fowl
The animals were taken to the shelter for evaluation.
“The animals are in a very, very fragile state given the conditions they’ve been in and the stress of being moved to a new location,” Graves said. “But they are doing well in our care and our shelter team has done an incredible job in this all-hands-on-deck situation.”
“The sad reality is that what was occurring on this property had likely gone on for a very long time,” Graves said. “We can’t thank the community member enough who sounded the alarms and, ultimately, helped save the lives of these 222 animals and to the Seattle Police Department for their invaluable assistance on this case.”
Officials noted that first-degree animal cruelty is a Class C felony and punishable by five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.
On Friday, a judge found probable cause for first-degree animal cruelty charges against Matthew Hazelbrook.
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