Photo by Eric Mathison
One of the dogs taken from from a Burien home is washed and dried at a Burien dog grooming salon after being rescued. Margie Hamilton, the dog owner, pleaded guilty to two counts of animal cruelty.

UPDATE: Dog show judge pleads guilty to animal cruelty in Burien case; will serve no jail time

Update for June 7
Margie Hamilton, the American Kennel Club dog show judge charged with two counts of animal cruelty for keeping close to 100 dogs in poor conditions at Burien and Issaquah homes, pleaded guilty on June 5.

With her guilty plea on two counts of second degree animal cruelty, Hamilton was sentenced to a suspended sentence of 365 days in jail.

King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Dan Donohoe explained that Hamilton's jail time is suspended on the condition that she fulfill the rest of the sentence including restitution, probation, no further run-ins with the law, and proper care of the animals she is allowed to keep.

Hamilton will have to pay a total of $35,500 in restitution. $500 goes to the court system, $25,000 goes to Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC), and $10,000 goes to Burien C.A.R.E.S., the city's animal control service.

She will be on unsupervised probation for the next 48 months.

The court imposed additional conditions: Hamilton will have to surrender ownership of all but three dogs to RASKC. Over the next five years, RASKC will inspect the living conditions of her animals twice a year at her Issaquah home "to ensure their well-being and safe and humane living conditions."

If she is found in violation of the above terms, her dogs will be taken away by RASKC.

Debra George, director of Burien CARES, said six dogs recovered from the Burien home will be available for adoption either Friday (June 8) or early next week. The foster families for the remaining animals opted to adopt and keep the rest.

CARES can be reached at (206) 812-2737 or www.buriencares.com
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Original post on May 7
Margie Hamilton, an American Kennel Club certified dog show judge, is now charged with animal cruelty against the very breeds she judged, bred and raised.

King County Prosecutors charged Hamilton with two counts of second degree animal cruelty on May 3, resulting from an investigation of animal hoarding and the deplorable health conditions of dogs found at the Burien home of a relative and Hamilton's Issaquah residence.

The following account is drawn from King County Prosecutor charging documents and previous Times/News coverage:

Hamilton is charged with animal cruelty against two specific dogs (one in Burien and one in Issaquah), although close to 100 were recovered by authorities and are now in the care of animal control services.

It all started in September, 2011 when an anonymous tipster contacted Pasado Safe Haven (dedicated to animal welfare) with information of alleged animal abuse and cruelty occurring at a home on the 1300 block of S. 120th St. in Burien. Two Pasado members took the information and ran with it, conducting their own investigation.

The Pasado members illegally entered the home with a video camera and shot video in the basement that showed close to 40 dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, being kept in small cages stacked on top of each other. The dogs appeared malnourished, exhibited “neurotic behavior,” and several were without food or water and living in their own excrement. It was completely dark in the basement with all of the windows covered.

The homeowner was the brother-in-law of Margie Hamilton’s husband, John Hamilton.

The freelance investigators contacted the King County Sheriff’s Office at that point and Sgt. Henry McLauchlan with Burien PD asked an animal control officer to launch an investigation.

On October 4th the Burien homeowner refused to let Burien CARES animal control investigate the basement.

After discussing “the circumstances of how Pasado obtained the video and admissibility issues,” with prosecutors, the sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant and recovered 38 dogs from small crates. Responding officers wrote in their report, “The majority of dogs had either no food or water; several had a significant amount of feces and urine in their crates, indicating neglect.” All of the dogs had problems with their teeth, feet and nails and were taken to a veterinary hospital for care. 14 of the animals had to be euthanized.

The homeowner, John Hamilton’s brother-in-law, told deputies John came to the house every day to care for the animals and paid him $500 a month in return. He said Margie came to the house when John was unavailable and stated, “Hamilton gets angry at him if he interferes (with the animals’ care).”

He went on to say Margie “won’t put anything down,” even dogs with health problems.

John Hamilton was interviewed next and said the dogs were a combination of old breeding dogs, show dogs and rescue animals. He claimed to feed, water and exercise all of them on a daily basis, but said, “it is a hard task to accomplish each day.” He said the Hamilton’s had been using the Burien basement for five years.

Based on results of the Burien search warrant, deputies obtained a warrant for the Hamilton’s Issaquah home as well. There they found an additional 62 dogs, mostly Chihuahuas and Japanese Chins. “Almost all were stored in individual carriers in the living room, many of which were not clean,” detectives wrote the court. “Of the 62 dogs recovered, 12 required immediate vet care and one, “Foster,” was euthanized due to congestive heart failure and advanced dental health problems.

During the Issaquah raid, Margie claimed she was taking proper care of the animals at her home and the animals in Burien were the responsibility of her husband.

In his report to prosecutors, King County Sheriff’s Office Detective John Pavlovich concluded, “Hoarding is likely a factor in what was occurring as the Hamilton’s were clearly unable to part with dogs that they had collected over the years, even after the dogs were past a show or breeding age.”

Debra George, director of Burien CARES, said the surviving animals recovered from the Burien home are currently in foster care. They will not be available for permanent adoption until prosecutor’s give them word the animals are no longer needed as evidence in the case.

Margie Hamilton's husband John was also allegedly involved as an animal hoarder, according to court documents, but passed away from natural causes in October of 2011.

Previous coverage can be found here.

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