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Felony animal cruelty cases in King County have doubled since last year

There have been 20 felony animal cruelty cases in King County so far in 2020, while 2019 saw only 9 cases total.

SEATTLE, Wash — In October, rescuers removed dozens of sick animals from a West Seattle home. 

In late November, a man was seen on camera in Mercer Island violently beating a dog.

While overall animal cruelty complaints are down from last year, these scenes of suspected abuse are part of a disturbing pattern in King County.

"We are seeing an uptick in those that are resulting in charges referring to the prosecutor's office," said Sgt. Tim Anderson, Animal Control Lead for King County. 

Out of 542 animal cruelty complaints this year, 20 have been classified as felony cases, and another 16 have been misdemeanors. Compare that to last year when there were 675 cases, but only 9 felonies.

"We recognize that animal cruelty is underreported," said Anderson. 

Traditionally, animal abuse is underreported, but with less people outside and engaging with others, Anderson believes that could be why complaints are down.

On the flipside, seeing as we are living through a stressful time during the pandemic, it could also be the reason for more violence, although Anderson is not drawing any conclusions. 

"Much like domestic violence, that is something that is the reality of the world," he said. 

Anderson said if you see animal abuse happen right in front of you, call 911. If you see signs of animal abuse, like malnourishment or open wounds, report it to your local animal control -- it could lead to discoveries of other abuses. 

"We know that a link exists between animal cruelty and domestic violence and child abuse," said Anderson. 

If you're finding yourself having trouble affording food for your pet during this time, go to the King County RASKC page here to learn how you can benefit from an ongoing pet food drive in the county. 

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