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Dead and emaciated animals found in Roy, Wash.

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On Tuesday, Dec. 24, Yelm online news reported that Pierce County Animal Control seized more than a dozen animals after finding them emaciated at an abandoned farm in Roy last Friday.

According to Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, whose office oversees Animal Control, responding officers found seven dead pigs on the property. The farm, which is located in the 100 block of 394 St. S. in Roy, had numerous animals, including a total of 16 pigs, of which seven were dead; two dogs; three piglets; a steer; a horse; a cat; and a cow.

Auditor Anderson stated that the animals belonged to Fagatulu’imalemalo Fa’Agata, who is no stranger to animal control visits. Since 2008, Pierce County Animal Control has received 20 calls regarding this property. More than half of the calls pertained to loose or roaming animals, while some pertained to dangerous or aggressive animals (specifically, pigs). Animal Control notes that there were also five calls of animal abuse or neglect several years back.

According to Anderson, the animals are evidence of a crime and must be sequestered as evidence at county contracted facilities. Some of the seized animals are currently at veterinary hospitals in Roy receiving care, while others are at boarding facilities.

This is the largest livestock seizure that Anderson can recall.

“In cases like this, I always like to remind the public that animal control officers are part of the law enforcement community,” Anderson said.

“We’re constantly having to balance property rights and Constitutional rights of individuals with the best welfare for animals. That means we can’t just welcome ourselves and stroll around on 20 acres of property looking for problems when we don’t have reasonable cause or a warrant to do so. We have restrictions, but they’re important restrictions to observe.”

According to Anderson, Animal Control officers were on the property for another complaint and observed the emaciated animals from a neighbor’s property.

“We’re always looking for opportunities like that,” she said.

“We want our cases to hold up and violators to be prosecuted. That means we can’t contaminate cases … by violating the law. Procedural law is more important in animal control than people would like to think. We definitely want to prosecute this man to the fullest extent possible.”

Anderson stated that animal control hopes to deem Fa’Agata’s behavior “habitual” in court, which would mean that he can no longer own animals.

She added that Fa’Agata has an outstanding bench warrant for a dangerous animal violation.

In Washington state, animal cruelty in the first degree (RCW 16.52.205) is defined as:

(1) A person is guilty of animal cruelty in the first degree when, except as authorized in law, he or she intentionally
(a) inflicts substantial pain on,
(b) causes physical injury to, or
(c) kills an animal by a means causing undue suffering, or forces a minor to inflict unnecessary pain, injury, or death on an animal.

(2) A person is guilty of animal cruelty in the first degree when, except as authorized by law, he or she, with criminal negligence, starves, dehydrates, or suffocates an animal and as a result causes:
(a) Substantial and unjustifiable physical pain that extends for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering; or
(b) death.

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