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

PASCO, Wash. — Dozens of sick dogs and cats are now safe after Pasco police conducted a search warrant Thursday morning at the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter (TCAS).

Officials said they received a complaint of possible mistreatment for animals being held at the shelter. When they went to investigate around 9 a.m., they found at least four malnourished dogs and about 30 cats with serious infections out of over 200 animals.

No one was arrested during the check but TCAS director Rebecca Howard and the Neo’s Nation Animal Foundation manager Julie Chambers had their operating contracts terminated immediately, said Pasco Police Sgt. Rigo Pruneda.

Sgt. Pruneda noted that this investigation will take months to complete.

“We had a veterinarian come with us to be able to identify and take a look at those animals and they were able to conclude that some were not getting taken care of like they should have,” Sgt. Pruneda said. “In a complex investigation like this, we have to be certain that we know who is responsible for the mistreatment of these animals before any charges are filed.”

If and/or when charges are filed, whoever is responsible could be facing animal neglect and cruelty felony charges.

“We want people to be able to know that our community has a safe place for animals that are in need and that they’re getting taken care of properly,” Sgt. Pruneda said, noting that this is the first complaint the shelter has received.

Tri-Cities resident and kitten foster Alisha Dickenson said the news was shocking.

She first began fostering three kittens in September before getting another three kittens in the middle of October.

“When I went, it just seemed like there were cages everywhere,” Dickenson said. “I wouldn’t say it smelled terrible. It smelled like there were a lot of animals.”

Dickenson said she’d worked with vet clinics before and didn’t notice any red flags when she went to pick up the kittens from the shelter, but she did admit she was only at the facility briefly.

Now, she’s looking for answers.

“I’m just left wondering how this all affects the kittens that I’m fostering,” Dickenson said. “No one’s reached out to me from the shelter.”

The affected dogs and cats are currently being taken in and cared for by multiple organizations including the Benton-Franklin Humane Society, Silver Cloud Sanctuary in Walla Walla, and Tumbleweed Cat Rescue.

If you want to help:

Benton County WA Canine Shelter is asking for this list of items from Amazon.

Silver Cloud Sanctuary is asking for this list of items from Amazon.

Fosters are also needed.

A statement issued by the City of Pasco reads in full:

On Thursday, November 11, at 9:15 am, the Pasco Police Department served a search warrant at the Tri-City Animal Shelter located at 1312 18th Ave. in Pasco. During the service of the search warrant, out of around 260 animals on-site, four dogs and 30 cats were seized and placed in immediate veterinary care. During the search, it was determined to put a portion of the shelter complex under the supervision and responsibility of the Benton-Franklin Humane Society (BFHS). Immediately after police clearance, volunteers and staff from the BFHS began facility cleaning and assuming care of the remaining animals.
Based partly on the conditions encountered, City of Pasco Administrative staff terminated the operating contract with the director and manager of Neo’s Nation Animal Foundation and personally served said notice on November 11. Operations and management of the shelter were immediately transitioned to BFHS. Current staff for regional animal control, shelter care, and volunteer animal care were retained under the supervision of BFHS to ensure that service to the community and the animals would not be significantly interrupted. BFHS will determine long-term employment for shelter staff based upon their organizational mission and need for the facility’s continued operation.
Before the action was taken yesterday, an investigation commenced after City staff received information regarding shelter conditions and organizational operations with Neo’s Nation. On October 26, city staff conducted an unannounced inspection of the shelter facility based on that information received. City staff is not trained nor certified in veterinary care or shelter management, so conditions were such that staff ensured that credentialed professionals accompanied law enforcement on the search warrant.
The City of Pasco, our partner communities, and the Tri-City Animal Control Authority would like to express appreciation for the community members who work and volunteer to serve the animals before, during, and continuing through this challenging time. Special thanks to the Benton-Franklin Humane Society for stepping in to continue operations for the animals and community.
Finally, thanks to the Tri-Cities community for its patience and understanding during this transition to provide the best care possible for the animals.
The City of Pasco strives to continue improving the quality of community life in Pasco.

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