July 31st was to be the beginning of the trial process for a Kickerville dairy farmer charged with 5 counts of animal cruelty. But the court recently dismissed 3 of the 5 counts of animal cruelty in the 1st degree, a class C felony, reduced the remaining 2 charges to animal cruelty in the 2nd degree, a misdemeanor, and rescheduled a status hearing for a date in June of next year.
According to court documents, there was a flurry of activity from May to early July leading up to these changes.
In April, dairy farmer Seth Snook admitted to not being able to afford to feed his cows when charges were filed after a Washington State Department of Agriculture veterinarian concluded the cows’ condition had been the result of “at least six months of neglect.” At the time, Whatcom Humane Society (WHS) animal control officer said there were carcasses and skeletons of dead cows along with shallow mass graves on the property.
Snook was charged with 5 counts of animal cruelty in the 1st degree associated specifically with the conditions of 4 dairy cows and 1 deceased pig. WHS seized 23 cows at the time. Transporting the cows was difficult in their poor condition and 5 had to be euthanized according to statement from the WHS animal control officer.
According to court documents, in late June, a veterinarian inspected the farm and deemed it was in a safe condition for cows to be returned. The veterinarian also inspected the cows in June. She compared the cows’ conditions in April with their conditions in June using video recordings made in April. She said their April “body condition scores [were] similar to how I had scored the cows [in June]” and “all appear from the videos to be bright, alert and responsive with good temperaments.” She did note they appeared “slightly thinner” in the April videos.
In court documents dated July 11th, Whatcom County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Eric Richey is said to have requested, and the court agreed, to 3 charges being dropped and 2 reduced to misdemeanors. In addition, the court ordered 4 calves and 2 cows seized in April and still alive be returned to Snook.
An agreement lasting 12 months was also struck after which all remaining charges would be dismissed if Snook complied with the terms. The terms include:
- Any conviction of a crime is considered a breach of the agreement
- Snook must pay:
- $150 administrative fee to Whatcom County Superior Court.
- $336 to the Whatcom Humane Society in compensation for feed.
- $352 for veterinary bills.
- A veterinarian must inspect all cows at his farm monthly.
- Snook agrees not to permit any pigs on the farm.