A man who dumped nine severely neglected puppies in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord woods in 2011 is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, February 21. According to Kelly Kelstrup, assistant to Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, Christopher Merrick was arraigned on two counts of Animal Cruelty in the first degree.
Merrick, 27, was released on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty on February 6. His trial is scheduled for April 22.
"The Defendant is scheduled for a Pre-Trial conference tomorrow at 1:30," Kelstrup stated.
"This is a scheduling conference between the prosecutor and the defense attorney. The attorneys will discuss legal issues in the case and establish dates for future hearings."
Pierce County Prosecutor Lindquist discussed why prosecuting this animal cruelty case is important.
"When defenseless animals are victimized, we have a duty to respond," he stated.
"Animal cruelty laws exist to prevent this type of abuse and we will vigorously prosecute these offenses."
In September of 2011, nine puppies were abandoned in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) woods of Washington State. But their story didn't end there - a Good Samaritan was looking out for them.
During that same month, a Lakewood, WA Animal Control officer visited the home of Christopher Merrick after receiving an anonymous complaint. The officer checked on Merrick's dogs and Merrick allegedly told the officer he had taken his nine 6-month-old puppies to the Humane Society.
This, however, was untrue: The puppies were battling the elements in the woods.
Fortunately, the officer called the Humane Society, learning that a man had tried to drop off nine puppies for a friend. But when the Humane Society notified them that there would be a fee, they left - and took the puppies with them.
The officer soon heard that two puppies were found at JBLM. Over the course of several days, all nine puppies were found.
A veterinarian evaluated the puppies, diagnosing them with severe parasitic skin infections. The animals all exhibited raw, hairless skin - a result of being neglected. Brighter days were ahead for the abandoned animals, but the same could not be said for Merrick, who was accused of dumping the emaciated dogs.
According to investigators, the dogs' paws were swollen to twice their normal size. The animals' ribs were showing, some of their eyes were swollen shut, and others were bleeding from sores that covered their bodies.
You can read about Loxy, one of the rescued puppies, here.
Updates to this case will be posted as they occur.
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