Court docs detail the “very filthy environment” sick dogs, cats lived in at the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter

PASCO, Wash. — Court paperwork reveals the dirty conditions that dozens of dogs and cats were left to live in at the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter as the former director faces charges of animal cruelty in the 2nd degree.

Pasco police started investigating the shelter in November during a search warrant after a tip came in from an employee.

READ: Dozens of sick cats, dogs rescued during Pasco PD welfare check at local animal shelter

According to the documents, officers found “an apparent mice infestation… cats sharing cages, and cages stacked on cages. Some of these cages had bin lids used for the bottom, Litter and other debris had fallen from cage to cage.”

They also saw evidence that sick cats with acute matted eyes and noses were intermixed with “what appeared to be healthy cats.”

The report called the environment “extremely stressful” and blamed it as the root for additional illnesses being caused.

Officers removed 30 cats and four thin dogs from the shelter but countless more still needed help.

One of the sick cats held in the outbuilding was suffering from an infected throat laceration and was found burrowed “underneath two other cats inside of an empty food dish in that cage.”

“Based on my investigation, I believe both Justin Hernandez (manager) and Rebecca Howard (Director) of the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter clearly did not provide the animals in the shelter with sanitation, space, or the medical attention the animals desperately needed,” documents said. “Countless cats had suffered unnecessary and unjustifiable physical pain because of their failure to do so.”

One employee also had suspicions that Hernandez was “personally euthanizing cats” after he had ordered Lidocaine, a medication that could be used for that, the report said.

Officials said that while some of the cats have died, others are currently being treated for severe URI’s and ringworm.

Others have been taken in by multiple local organizations or are being fostered.

Howard was supposed to be at the Pasco Municipal Court on Dec. 14 but her court date is now rescheduled to January.

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