Charges Filed Against Former Tri-Cities Animal Shelter Operators
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today a significant numbers of charges, felonies and misdemeanors, filed against the former operators of the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter in Pasco.
The filing is the result of an investigation that began in October 2021 after animal cruelty complaints were made to Pasco police against the non-profit that was running the shelter. The investigation led to a number of animals being rescued from the shelter within weeks.
Who Were the Operators of the Shelter?
The non-profit was called Neo’s Nation Animal Foundation and was run by director Rebecca Howard of Kennewick. Howard had worked at the shelter for a decade before taking over operations in January of 2021.
Howard has been charged along with former office manager Justin Hernandez of Pasco and Neo's Nation as an organization. After the investigation uncovered evidence of animal cruelty at the facility, the City of Pasco terminated the operating agreement with Neo's Nation in November of the same year.
What Are the Charges?
They could spend up to five years in prison and pay a $10,000 fine for each of the two felony charges of first-degree animal cruelty and up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine for each of the 14 gross misdemeanor charges of second-degree animal cruelty.
Neo's Nation, as an entity, faces a fine of up to $500,000 for each of the two felony charges and $250,000 for each of the 14 gross misdemeanors if convicted.
The charges were filed in Franklin County Superior Court by the AG's office at the request of Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant. Since the Shelter is a government owned building in Franklin County, the case was referred to Grant County to continue the investigation.
The Grant County Prosecutor's Office then sent the case to the Attorney General's Office with agreement from Franklin County. Dozens of malnourished and sick animals were discovered in multiple areas of the shelter during the investigation leading to the charges. You can read the full statement from the Attorney general's office here.
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