Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Animal cruelty case dismissed over botched search

On constitutional grounds, a Cowlitz County District Court judge has dismissed 27 counts of animal cruelty against a Rose Valley man accused of neglecting dozens of dogs in a filthy, unlicensed breeding operation.
Most of the evidence against Steven Yaroslaski, 60, was inadmissible because the Humane Society didn't have a search warrant or Yaroslaski's consent to a search when its animal control officers seized 34 bedraggled dogs at 141 N. Bodine Road, said Deputy Prosecutor Lacey Skalisky.
Yaroslaski filed a motion July 5 to suppress the evidence the Humane Society observed and collected March 3, 2011, as well as testimony from veterinarians regarding the dogs' condition after they were seized.
Skalisky said she consulted with Humane Society officers about Yaroslaski's denial of allowing the March 3 search, and "it became clear that we would not prevail on (Yaroslaski's) motion." So the prosecution asked District Court Judge David Koss to dismiss the case.
"Animal cruelty is a terrible crime. However, we have to make sure that individual rights were not violated before we can obtain a proper, fair and just conviction," Skalisky told The Daily News on Tuesday.
Law enforcement officers must obtain a search warrant before entering or seizing a person's property, and nothing in this case exempted them from that obligation, Skalisky said.

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