Kenneth Martin Cassell has been convicted of three counts of animal cruelty in the second degree and one count of violating the Washington State dog breeding law.
On April 6, 2012 Whatcom Humane Society (WHS) animal control officers seized nearly 50 miniature Australian Shepherds from a barn located on Cassell’s property in Ferndale.
WHS reported that the dogs, ages newborn to older adults, were found living in small, dirty cages, and were filthy, covered in feces and underweight. The dogs also showed signs of severe dental disease and exhibited behavior traits associated with “puppy mill” breeding operations.
Cassell had originally been cited for 21 counts of second-degree animal cruelty, 42 counts of failure to provide the legally required living space for dog breeding, and 40 counts of failure to provide water when the dogs were seized, but the charges were reduced during the course of his trial.
Washington state law limits the number of dogs of breeding age that a person may own at any given time and dictates appropriate living conditions for the animals.
Reports from neighbors had alerted WHS to the dogs’ living conditions, and Cassell’s breeding operation had been on WHS radar for several months before the raid was executed.
“Our organization is extremely happy with the verdict rendered,” WHS executive director Laura Clark said. “Our dedicated staff worked tirelessly to protect and care for the dogs involved in this case and we are very thankful for the work done by members of the Whatcom County prosecutor’s office.”
WHS obtained legal custody of all the dogs associated with this case earlier this summer. They have reported that every dog involved in the case was placed into a new home or transferred to private, non-profit animal adoption agencies.
Cassell was scheduled to be sentenced in Whatcom County District Court on November 7, but the results were not available at press time. He faces a lifetime ban on owning dogs, and up to one year in jail.