A nonprofit rescue organization that took in dozens of neglected animals following a raid on a Stevens County home last year says it is still waiting for compensation for its work.
On May 3 and 4, Rescue4All owner and founder Jamie McAtee, volunteers and Stevens County sheriff’s deputies rescued 38 dogs – including six puppies – and a cat from a chronic nuisance home west of Deer Park off Swenson Road in rural Stevens County.
Stevens County Undersheriff Andy Harbolt said those animals were voluntarily surrendered by the owners to Rescue4All, which agreed to foot the bill for cleaning up, providing medical attention and finding foster homes.
But days later, on May 10, deputies learned the couple were hiding more animals, which prompted a second search, this time with a court-ordered search warrant. Two cats and a dog were seized.
McAtee said she never agreed to house those additional three animals, but did anyway. And since there was a warrant involved, she said it meant the Sheriff’s Office was legally responsible for them.
On Oct. 28, a Stevens County judge awarded McAtee full custody of the dog and the cat. The other cat was awarded to the original owners after they successfully argued in court the cat was an “emotional support animal.” The cat is still with McAtee while the couple finish their sentence.
Months later, McAtee tallied the final bill for housing the two cats and the dog, which came out to just under $13,000. Following state law, she charged $20 a day per animal, plus $412 in veterinary fees.
She sent the first invoice in January, and further invoices in February, and again in March to Stevens County commissioners, but didn’t receive a response from Sheriff Kendle Allen until March 29, who said it had been forwarded to the prosecutor’s office.
Harbolt said the office wasn’t ignoring her emails, but instead thought prosecutors were handling it.
“It’s not that we’re not going to pay the bill,” he said. “We don’t know that we should have to pay the bill.”
A representative with the prosecutor’s office was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
The home’s owners, Theresa and Thomas Hostetler, were sentenced in October to 60 days in jail each, with two years of probation to follow, for animal cruelty. Most of the animals have been re-homed or put into foster care after extensive veterinary care.
A restitution hearing is scheduled for April 24, when a judge will rule on who gets paid and when. Regardless, both sides agree a judge will order the couple to pay for the cost of care.
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