Animal protection officers removed two dozen miniature Australian shepherds from a home west of Spokane this week in an ongoing illegal kennel and animal cruelty investigation.
The dogs, along with six birds and two Chihuahuas, were found at Sarah Jayne Bowen’s property at 3618 S. Harrison Road on Tuesday. They are now at Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service and will be put up for adoption, said Nicole Montano, an animal protection officer.
Bowen, whose name is also listed as Sarah Bowen-Heuett, is the only suspect in the investigation.
“We’re hoping to make a charging decision soon,” Montano said.
The dogs were kept in crates and pens in Bowen’s backyard and appear to be part of an unlicensed kennel, according to court documents. The animal protection agency learned of possible hoarding by Bowen in January when a tipster said Bowen removed the animals from the property whenever officers showed up. She’d been suspected of operating an illegal kennel since at least 2006 and as recently as May 2009, documents said.
Montano and other SCRAPS employees joined Spokane County sheriff’s deputies on Tuesday to seize the dogs and inspect the property.
Goats belonging to Bowen were in good health and remain with Bowen, Montano said.
Pictures included with a search warrant filed in Superior Court on Wednesday show crates stacked in wire cages inside a large barn. People who had visited the property before told investigators that Bowen “is constantly breeding the dogs” but that the puppies don’t survive.
“The complainant stated that Bowen stepped on and killed one puppy,” according to the search warrant.
Bowen could not be reached for comment. An investigator first visited her home March 16.
On Tuesday, a tipster provided authorities with details about puppy deaths, untreated canine lice and crates covered in urine and feces. The tipster also claimed that animals were hidden after the first visit.
A judge approved the search warrant hours later.