TACOMA, WA – Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged Christopher Merrick, 27, with Animal Cruelty after Merrick dumped nine severely neglected puppies in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord woods.
"When defenseless animals are victimized, we have a duty to respond," said Prosecutor Lindquist. "Animal cruelty laws exist to prevent this type of abuse and we will vigorously prosecute these offenses."
On September 14, 2011, a Lakewood Animal Control Officer responded to the Merrick residence to perform an animal welfare check as a result of an anonymous complaint. The officer contacted the defendant who reported he had taken nine 6-month-old puppies to the Humane Society.
The officer called the Humane Society and learned that earlier in the day a man had come to drop off nine puppies as a favor for a friend. The kennel supervisor added that she did not see the puppies because when she informed the defendant of a fee for leaving the puppies, he quickly left.
When confronted by the officer, the defendant stated, “I don’t want anyone to get in trouble for animal cruelty… because the dogs looked bad.” The defendant said that he had left the puppies with an associate in Spanaway, but refused to give the associate’s name. He agreed to call the associate and contact the officer with a report on the condition of the animals.
The officer left the residence. Shortly thereafter, he was advised that two puppies were found at JBLM. Over the next two days, a local resident found the remaining seven puppies nearby and reported the matter to the Lakewood police department.
A veterinarian evaluated the puppies and determined that they had severe parasitic skin infections, which cause raw and hairless skin, a condition related to purposeful neglect.
The nine puppies made significant recovery within the first week of care.
The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 270 in the County City Building in Tacoma. Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
For more information, please contact Kelly Kelstrup at (253) 798-7792, [email protected].