SPOKANE, Wash. - On Wednesday The City of Spokane Prosecutors Office moved forward with prosecution of an upsetting case of animal cruelty. The arraignment of Laneva M. Erskine on nine counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty proceeded today.
"We want our community to know that we will prosecute such cases. Mistreating animals won't be tolerated," says Matthew Folsom, the Assistant City Prosecutor who is handling the case.
The charges follow the execution of a search warrant in December 2011 at the home of Ms. Erskine. At that time, 50 animals were removed from the small home, which has 288 square feet of living space on the main floor. The animals included dogs, cats and unweaned puppies.
Many of the animals were stacked in cages, and the home smelled of urine and animal feces were prevalent, according to police reports. Some of the animals were kept in the dark with insufficient ventilation and many had burns caused by urine and other physical problems.
To prosecute the case, the City must prove that the animals suffered as a result of mistreatment and negligent care, Folsom says. A veterinarian must certify that suffering occurred, he adds. Since the December 2011 action, many of the animals have been adopted; a few had to be euthanized.
SpokAnimal was instrumental in helping the case move forward and the City was able to hire a veterinarian to serve as an expert witness with the financial assistance of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.