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Last dogs rescued at rural ‘killing yard’

Fri., March 5, 2010, midnight

Stevens County woman gets more than year in jail

Neighbors saw the carnage firsthand.

Older dogs ganged up on younger dogs. Dogs mauled each other regularly, sometimes leading to death.

This scene, detailed over three days of testimony in a Stevens County courtroom, led to a Deer Park woman’s recent conviction on four charges that sent her to jail for more than a year.

On Thursday, as Pam Deskins served her sixth day in the Stevens County Jail, animal control officers traveled to her Wallbridge Road property to capture the last of dozens of dogs that roamed a 3-acre pen described in court as “a killing yard,” said Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.

“Pam Deskins didn’t beat or whip or starve these animals, but she kept them in such a way that they could really hurt each other,” Rasmussen said. “And they did.”

Deskins, a paralegal, was sentenced Feb. 25 to 550 days in jail after a jury convicted her of four misdemeanors, including confining animals in an unsafe manner and second-degree animal cruelty.

She was arrested after authorities raided her property in October 2008, seizing more than 30 dogs in a case that centered on complaints from neighbors about animals menacing their dogs.

Four of the dogs were euthanized because of temperament.

Deskins had until today to remove the remaining dogs from the property.

A crew from Spokane’s Humane Evacuation Animal Rescue Team removed the last of about 20 dogs Thursday. They’re headed to a rescue in Seattle, said Gail Mackie, SpokAnimal’s executive director.

SpokAnimal took in 10 dogs on Monday, nine of which are in foster care. The last dog has been adopted, Mackie said.

Deskins’ conviction for second-degree animal cruelty centered on the conditions in which the dogs lived, including the mauling death of a dog on her property, Rasmussen said.

Jurors saw photos of the dead dog, Winnie, and heard testimony from neighbors about “what they would describe as the sounds of mauling on a nearly weekly basis,” Rasmussen said.

“The testimony was disturbing at times,” Rasmussen said.

Spokane lawyer Ronnie Rae, who defended Deskins, said he will appeal the sentence. He questioned how Deskins’ animals could have been better off when they had nowhere else to go.

“Basically, she took the handicapped dogs … the dogs that nobody really wanted,” Rae said. Her actions were “maybe not popular, but definitely not cruel,” Rae said.

Along with 550 days in jail, Deskins was ordered to serve about a year of probation and pay about $31,000 in restitution. She also is prohibited from owning animals for two years.

Deskins’ arrest came at a time when, Mackie said, similar situations were occurring across the rural county, which lacks its own animal control agency.

Rasmussen hopes Deskins’ case will be an example.

“It’s a horrible problem out there and we’ve tried to make progress on it,” Rasmussen said.

“I just hope that other people will be careful how they treat their animals.”


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