The Seattle Times recently reported that Mary J. Banks, a Spokane-area resident, is facing allegations of animal cruelty involving the death of nine squirrels. The Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS) was apparently involved in notifying the local authorities. Passers-by complained that the nine rodents were left suspended along an electric fence that was installed to protect a walnut tree in her backyard. The case was filed in the Spokane County Superior Court.
Ms. Banks apparently installed a makeshift electric fence to prevent the squirrels from taking the walnuts. The report says that the squirrels remained hanging by their paws following the electrocution. Ashley Proszek, an operations manager with SCRAPS, explained that the scene was very unsightly. It is alleged that Banks left the squirrels on the fence in hopes of deterring others from accessing the tree. Banks says she uses the walnuts for food and to give as gifts to others.
Death Not Instantaneous
After an officer from SCRAPS visited her home to investigate, Banks apparently removed the fence. Proszek called the incident “unusual” and said that acts of animal cruelty rarely involve these types of wildlife. She says that rodents are more commonly shot or managed with some form of chemical product. She feels that electrocution may not result in “instantaneous death” and is thus inhumane.
Washington Code: Animal Cruelty (First Degree)
According to provisions in RCW 16.52.205, animal cruelty in the first degree is a class C felony that involves intentional actions that:
- Creates a significant level of pain for an animal
- Results in injuries or death that involves “undue suffering” or “extreme indifference” for the animal's life
- Coerces a minor to injure or kill an animal
- May involve criminal behavior including starvation, dehydration, or suffocation
- Causes the animal to endure significant pain and extended suffering
Washington Code: Animal Cruelty (Second Degree)
A second-degree charge of animal cruelty involves intentionally or recklessly causing an animal to endure pain and suffering. It may involve depriving the animal of shelter, failing to maintain sanitary conditions, or provide necessary medical attention. It applies when someone abandons an animal that results in a strong likelihood of creating harm. The offense is classified as a gross misdemeanor. The distinction between first and second degree is generally that first-degree offenses involve intentionally inflicting harm, while second-degree offenses create harm due to carelessness or neglect.
A class C felony conviction may result in a period of incarceration of up to five years and a maximum fine of $10,000. A gross misdemeanor offense is punishable by up to 364 days in jail or a maximum fine of up to $5,000. These penalties are only applicable to offenses committed by adults—not juveniles.
Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney in King County
Attorney Steve Karimi has been representing clients faced with criminal allegations for many years. He will assess the facts and evidence involved to develop an effective defense strategy. Contact the office today for a case evaluation at (206) 621-8777.