Joyce Tasker says she will have to close the animal shelter she runs in her Colville-area home if a judge carries through Friday with his decision to require her to post a $100,000 bond.
Tasker and about two dozen dogs live in a four-home subdivision about 12 miles southwest of Colville. A court order requires her to get rid of all but two of the dogs unless she posts the bond.
The bond would be used to pay damages to two close neighbors if Tasker loses an appeal of a court decision that her Dog Patch shelter is an unlawful nuisance. The appeal is expected to take about two years.
Neighbors Raymond and Betty Hickey and Dan and Sarah Schwartz convinced Stevens County Superior Court Judge Larry Kristianson in March that barking dogs kept them from sleeping or enjoying outdoor activities.
Tasker said she is especially concerned about the possibility of having to put down eight “really old” dogs she considers personal pets.
Tasker and her attorney, Lew Wilson of Spokane, say Kristianson talked about setting the bond at $50,000. At a hearing last week, though, the judge agreed with the Hickeys and Schwartzes that the amount should be $100,000.
“I stood ready to pay the $50,000 out of my retirement, but I can’t pay $100,000,” Tasker said.
“People murder people and don’t have $100,000 bail,” said Colville resident Sheryl Davis, who helps Tasker run Dog Patch. “You’ve got a woman who’s trying to do good, not bombing people and killing people.”
The plaintiffs’ Colville attorney, Chris Montgomery, said Tasker probably can afford to relocate on a larger, more rural property if she can afford a $50,000 bond.
“You can buy $1,000-an-acre property all over this county,” Montgomery said. “I close sales like that all the time.
“If she spent the same amount of energy and same amount of money on finding some other, suitable property in this county, she could continue on.”
Montgomery disputed Tasker’s contention that Kristianson’s decision to limit her to two dogs sets a precedent for other pet owners or animal shelters. A judge’s remedy in a nuisance case doesn’t set a precedent unless an appeals court upholds it and publishes the decision, he said.
Otherwise, individual circumstances determine each case, Montgomery said.