Deputies seized 38 dogs, many of which were puppies, that were living inside stacked kennels inside a 30-foot recreational vehicle outside of Centralia Thursday afternoon.
The large majority of the kennels, as well as the floor of the trailer, were covered in dog feces. Many of the dogs were sleeping in and eating in their own feces, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.
Jimmie R. Jemison, the owner of the RV, is accused of breeding and keeping the puppies in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
The 49-year-old Centralia man, who called the The Chronicle multiples times in the days leading to Thursday’s seizure, said he had ongoing health issues, including a number of severe infections.
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While Jemison will face a charge of second-degree animal cruelty, he was not booked into jail. He was instead transported to Harborview Medical Center, according to the sheriff’s office.
Jemison, who told The Chronicle he bred dogs and sold them in order to get money to pay for the care of his animals, said he had been contacted by deputies and an animal control officer before Thursday but he refused to let them come onto his property.
When deputies, code enforcement officers, human officers and a state veterinarian went to Jemison’s property on the 1600 block of Little Hanaford Road at 3 p.m. Thursday, they all wore protective apparel due to sanitation concerns, according to the release.
Authorities took 21 adult dogs and 17 puppies, which were a mixed breed of boxer, dachshund, chihuahua and basset hound, from the property, the release states. All the seized dogs were living in the RV with Jemison.
The dogs are now at the Lewis County Animal Shelter under observation and are being treated for dehydration and other ailments, according to the release.
Since it is a criminal case, Jemison has about three weeks to petition to try and get his dogs back before the shelter can adopt them out, said Amy Hanson, manager of the animal shelter.
In the meantime, the shelter will house, feed and care for the dogs, she said.
Due to the large number of dogs, the seizure pushes the animal shelter close to its capacity.
“We’re full,” she said.
Most of the dogs are well-fed, but the concern is parasites, she said.
“It’s just a matter of getting them cleaned up and then socializing them,” she said.
A good friend of Jemison, Chuck Haunreiter, said he was trying to act as a liaison between the sheriff’s office and Jemison for the past few days. On Friday, Haunreiter said he spoke to Jemison on the phone.
Jemison told him that normally the dogs run free inside the RV and he lets them outside often, Haunreiter said. The reason the dogs were in crates when the police arrived was because the police called him from the driveway to have him come outside.
As for the dirty conditions of the RV, Haunreiter explained: “Jim hadn’t cleaned up after his dogs because he was in severe depression for the last nine days — ever since the cops went out there the first time … He never left his motor home, except to feed the animals that were in the other outbuildings.”
Chief Deputy Stacy Brown, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said a stun gun was used on Jemisonbecause he was uncooperative and failed to obey orders.
She said an investigation into Jemison began in April.
A Lewis County animal control officer visited Jemison’s property previously and saw a number of violations of the Lewis County breeding ordinance, which gave police probable cause, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office.
On the surrounding property, deputies found garbage cans and buckets full of feces.
About a dozen domesticated live rats were living in a cage in an outbuilding on the property. Chickens, quail and a goat were also on the property.
Dead opossums were also found.
Brown said the animals outside the RV were not taken as they appeared to be in good health and a relative of Jemison will take care of them while Jemison is in the hospital.