Yesterday we celebrated the announcement from Rising Phoenix Animal Rescue that it is “no longer accepting pets, adopting out pets, or assisting with fosters.”
In my opinion, the reason this fake dog rescue group shut down is that hundreds of people spread information about the horrific cruelty Trisha Porter and Joey Prater inflicted on the dogs they “rescued.” After seeing this information, people and organizations stopped sending dogs to them, and potential adopters chose to adopt dogs more reputable rescues.
I’ve said repeatedly that Porter didn’t start Rising Phoenix to help dogs. To her it was just an easy way to make money. But as the places that would send her dogs dwindled and potential adopters got dogs elsewhere, the amount of cash she made dropped to the point where her business was no longer profitable.
But for many dog lovers, including me, yesterday’s news was bittersweet.
We want justice. We want Trisha Porter and Joey Prater arrested, prosecuted, and convicted for denying medical care to dogs suffering from curable health problems. For beating dogs with metal baseball bats when they barked or fought. For killing dogs that were no longer adoptable (i.e., profitable).
That’s why people continue to bombard Yakima County Animal Control with calls and emails demanding that officers arrest Porter and Prater.
I get that. They should be punished for what they did; however, we live in a country guided by the rule of law, and officers cannot ignore the law regardless of how many angry calls and emails they get.
For example, people want Porter and Prater arrested for shooting some of their dogs. So do I. But in Yakima County, it is legal for dog owners to euthanize or shoot their dogs.
I think that’s terrible, cruel, and barbaric. But it’s the law in Yakima County, so Yakima County Animal Control cannot arrest Porter and Prater for shooting their dogs.
People also want Porter and Prater arrested for beating their dogs with bats and denying them medical care for painful, treatable ailments. So do I. But law enforcement cannot arrest them without recent evidence. Nacho’s story is a perfect example of why law enforcement’s hands are tied.
Earlier this week I wrote about a dog at Rising Phoenix named Nacho. In 2015, a former volunteer witnessed Porter viciously, repeatably beat Nacho for fighting with other dogs. If she had taken Nacho to the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office and reported that Porter beat him then Porter would have been arrested.
Now, after two years, officers can’t arrest Porter because the evidence is gone. Porter ordered a teenager to shoot Nacho not long after he arrived at Rising Phoenix, and no video or picture exists that shows Porter beat him.
With no visual or physical evidence, police can’t arrest Porter just because a former volunteer said she saw Porter beat Nacho two years ago.
And even if they did arrest her, no prosecutor would file charges without solid, current evidence. This applies not only to Nacho’s case but also to the dozens of reports I’ve seen from people saying they adopted horribly sick dogs from Porter.
If you think Yakima County Animal Control ignored all the reports of animal cruelty at Rising Phoenix you’d be wrong. Officer Randy Sutton investigated all the complaints people filed. He issued a citation for animal cruelty against Porter that was thrown out because of lack of evidence. He issued a citation for animal cruelty for another person who lived on the property. He cited Porter for having too many dogs without a kennel license which cost her almost $2000.
He also forwarded some of the complaints about Porter to the District Attorney office, but the DA didn’t file charges due to lack of credible evidence. Officer Sutton couldn’t do anything else about the case once the DA’s office made that decision.
We can debate whether or not the Sheriff’s office did enough to stop Rising Phoenix, but those who say Yakima County ignored all the complaints the Sheriff’s Office received are factually incorrect.
I understand people are angry. I’m angry. And we need to find somewhere to channel our anger.
If I thought calling the Sheriff’s Office would accomplish something, I’d be the first one on the phone and would urge others to call as well.
Instead, those of us in Washington outraged how Porter abused dogs should direct our anger and energy toward changing the law that exempts rescue groups like Rising Phoenix from meeting any standard of care for their dogs. We should also support legislation that loosens the restrictions that hamper law enforcement officers from investigating animal cruelty charges at these rescues.
What we should NOT do is continue to inundate the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office with calls demanding the arrest Porter and Prater for alleged crimes committed years ago without compelling evidence. That will simply not happen.
Of course, if anyone discovers new evidence that Porter and Prater are abusing dogs, and Yakima County won’t do anything about it, call away.