WEST RICHLAND, Wash. -- West Richland Police's sole Animal and Code Compliance Officer Marissa Adamson walked through the lobby with a dog she calls 'Old Man Jake.'
He was found wandering the Van Giesen Bridge in West Richland. Now, he's with WRPD, waiting on a spot at the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter.
"It is pretty traumatizing for the animal, when you dump them out - they're lost," Officer Adamson said.
She doesn't know if Jake was dumped by his owners, but she is aware of other cases of animal abandonment throughout the city.
It's a problem worsened by shelters that are full.
"I've been here for just about nine years, and this is the worst I've seen with high capacity it's not usually this bad. We have some reports of people abandoning pets from their vehicles and we just want to let you know it is a criminal offense to do that in West Richland," she said.
It's a crime, that could cost you a lot or money and, or time.
"It's a fine of $5,000 or a year in prison so, I've charged it before when we had somebody dump out a white pit mix and somebody got a license plate so that's when we were able to get their location and find out who that dog belonged to," she said.
Officer Adamson is now asking the community to speak up if they witness animal abandonment.
"We do ask that if you're a property owner, that out in county - if you've got an issue with people abandoning animals to get game cameras up so we can get plates," she said.
Adamson isn't sure why people would abandon their pet - it could be financial strain or behavioral issues - but she does know there's help available for people who are struggling.
"To reach out - definitely give rescues a call if it's a behavioral issue - do YouTube searches. We just ask that, get on that waiting list because there is a waiting list for all shelters around the area. Just hold ground until you can get your pet in a safe spot not, on the highway," she said.
Local rescues, shelters and some veterinarian clinics often have pet food banks and other free supplies.
Officer Adamson hopes people will think twice before breaking the law, and putting a life in danger.
"Think about the repercussions of doing that - just have some patience with your animal. You're the responsible pet owner and you need to keep that animal until you can find a good disposition to follow."
If you come across an animal, Marissa urges people to post on social media in an effort to reunite lost pets with owners, so they're not impounded. You can reach WRPD's Animal and Code Compliance unit at (509) 967-3425.
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Madeleine Hagen joins the KAPP-KVEW Team with years of reporting and anchoring experience under her belt.
Madeleine got her start in high school where she learned the ropes of reporting and anchoring, this propelled her into studying journalism in college.
A proud University of Nevada, Reno Alumni, Madeleine interned for various TV stations and a public relations firm in order to prepare for her first job in the field.
Before living in Tri-Cities, Madeleine worked as a Multi-Skilled Journalist in Corpus Christi, Texas. While there, she covered stories like the historical Hurricane Harvey, and the tragic aftermath from the Sutherland Springs shooting.
Although Madeleine calls Sacramento, California home, she also claims Sammamish, Washington as her hometown.
When she’s not on air or out in the field, Madeleine can be found walking her dogs Ace and Pinot with her husband, cooking healthy meals or running. She looks forward to taking in the beauty of Tri-Cities and telling stories that matter most to the community.