Possible charges and fines for Yakima dog hoarders

YAKIMA, Wash. -- KIMA continues to follow the dog raid in Yakima last week. You wanted to know why the city had no plans to charge or fine the owners. Tuesday, we learned the city is changing course.

When we first spoke with the Humane Society, they told us only a few dogs were euthanized. But after further evaluations, it turns out at least 20 of the 47 dogs were put down.

As that number grew, the city took notice.

"Not enough food, water, dehydration was certainly a condition of several of the animals," says Interim City Manager, Michael Morales. "Malnutrition was really really bad."

Some dogs had bellies full of maggots, after a diet of hay and little else.

"I think the public, rightfully so, was disturbed by what was discovered," says Morales.

Morales says the city is taking action. No details yet on exactly what the charges will be, but state law says penalties could range form thousands in fines to time in jail.

"When you get into the animal cruelty range, which is a much tougher case to make, then your talking about a gross misdemeanor that can be up to a year in jail or a $5,000 fine," says Morales.

It can also include banning a person from owning an animal for at least two years. Morales says it's time to send a message to offenders.

"We need, at some point in time, to draw the line and say we can't afford to enable this kind of thing to occur," says Morales.

He hopes this case will set the standard for future cases. And, that future cases will be few and far between.

"Rest assured, everything we can do will be done," says Morales.

Prosecutors plan to take over the case some time next week. KIMA will keep tabs on the investigation.