An Olalla couple who had more than 150 animals seized from their property by the Kitsap Humane Society in November may seek monetary restitution from the nonprofit organization.
“We are hoping the other side comes out and does the right thing in this,” said the couple’s attorney, Paul Richmond, about the Humane Society possibly stepping forward with options for restitution. “The judge said (in a pretrial hearing) that you have civil options. We’ll talk and see what our options are.”
Simon Bailey and Rosalind Yorba-Bailey were accused of failing to provide proper care for the animals that were seized from their 5-acre “small scale” farm in November. On Friday, the Kitsap County prosecutor’s office dropped charges of second-degree animal cruelty against the couple.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Claire Bradley wrote in an email that her office did not believe that the county could provide proof strong enough to convict the couple in court.
“(I)n the interest of justice, we have dismissed the charges against both defendants,” Bradley wrote.
Recent turmoil at the Humane Society, including the sudden departure last month of Executive Director Sean Compton and an online petition alleging mismanagement by the board of directors, contributed to the prosecutor’s office decision.
“Given the current state of affairs at the Kitsap Humane Society, we are unable to meet our discovery obligations and unable to provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt at trial,” Bradley wrote.
Kitsap Humane Society receives around $800,000 a year from contracts with city and county governments for animal control services. Calls and emails to the Humane Society for comment were not returned.
Rosalind Yorba-Bailey said she was “relieved” after receiving a phone call from her attorney last Friday telling her the charges had been dropped.
“I’m happy it’s over,” she said. “People know us and know how we treat our animals. We would never hurt them.”
Though happy, Yorba-Bailey was upset at the fact that she might never again see many of the animals that were taken from their small farm. Since the Kitsap Humane Society has already adopted out many of the chickens, dogs, rabbits, alpacas and other animals she and her husband owned, she’s left hoping others care for them the way she would like, she said.
Yorba-Bailey spoke of one instance involving a 7-year-old Cocker Spaniel that the couple had since it was four weeks old. She said the Humane Society wouldn’t tell them who had adopted the dog.
“They won’t give us any information,” she said. “All I hope is she had a good home.”
The couple made a portion of their income and food from the small scale-farm they had on their property, Yorba-Bailey said. She and and other family members have done small-scale farming on that property for 40 years, she said.
Since her animals were taken away, Yorba-Bailey has worked part-time as an in-home caregiver for an elderly couple. She said she is unsure if she and her husband will try restart their farm, but that it is definitely something she will consider.
Yorba-Bailey expressed anger with Kitsap Humane Society, accentuated by the organization’s current state of affairs. She has read some of the online petition, and comments about KHS on other small-farming websites.
“How can people come (after) us for how we kept our animals when they keep them just like us if not worse,” she said.
Both Yorba-Bailey and Richmond were impressed by the outpouring of support the Baileys received from others around the Pacific Northwest. As many as 30 supporters from all across Washington state attended the couple’s pretrial hearing in January, and a website, www.justice4pnwfarmers.weebly.com, was started on their behalf. Richmond said the couple received close to 50 letters declaring their support for the family.
“I’ve never seen this many letters of support come in for a case,” he said. “A lot of people out there were offering their support.”