Major Neglect Case Ends in Convictions, Stronger Laws

Brooks Rescue - Jan. 2013
Dogs were stacked in crates inside a warehouse in Brooks.

The Oregon Humane Society cheered yesterday’s conviction of the third and final individual involved in one of the largest animal neglect cases in Oregon history. The conviction comes two-and-a-half years after Marion County, working with an OHS investigations team, seized 149 dogs from a warehouse in Brooks, near Salem.

Rescue story from 2013 on KATU and on OregonLive »

Brooks Case Helped Passage of Stronger Laws

The three individuals operating Willamette Animal Rescue were charged with multiple counts of first- and second-degree animal neglect and one count of attempting to tamper with physical evidence. “This has been a groundbreaking case in many ways,” said Sharon Harmon, OHS executive director. “It not only resulted in jail time for the director of the so-called rescue group, but it also spurred the legislature to dramatically increase penalties for people who neglect large groups of animals.”

Dogs Recovered at OHS

The case began Jan. 13, 2013, when the Marion County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant on a warehouse in Brooks operated by the rescue group. Inside, the Sheriff’s team and OHS investigators found shocking conditions. Most of the dogs were extremely underweight and some were living in small crates stacked on top of each other. All the dogs required some type of medical care. 122 of the dogs were taken to the OHS shelter in Portland. At OHS, the dogs received needed medical care over an extended period of time. After the dogs regained their health, OHS successfully offered them for adoption.

“The prosecution team from Marion County and the District Attorney made this case a top priority and put in a huge amount of work,” said Harmon. “The results of this case show that if you commit crimes against animals in Marion County, you will go to jail.”

Another result of the case was the passage two years ago of the Omnibus Animal Welfare bill. Under the new law, anyone who neglects 10 or more animals can be charged with a felony. Based on the laws in place at the time the crimes occurred, the director of Willamette Animal Rescue pleaded guilty to misdemeanors. The new law also included closer regulation of rescue groups, requiring licensing and inspections.

Defendants Plead Guilty

Alicia Marie Inglish, 26, the director of Willamette Animal Rescue, pleaded guilty earlier in June to 10 counts of first-degree animal neglect, 10 counts of second-degree animal neglect and two counts of identity theft. Her sentence: 90 days in jail and five years of probation. She is also barred from owning or caring for animals for five years.

Amanda Oakley, 21, the secretary of the group, pleaded guilty June 24 to one count of first-degree animal neglect in Marion County Circuit Court. She was sentenced to four years of probation and is barred from owning, residing with or caring for animals for the five years. The third member of the rescue group, Merissa Marie Noonan, pleaded guilty to first-degree animal neglect last year and was sentenced to five years of probation.

Photos Now Available to View for the First Time

Often with rescue and investigations cases, OHS is not able to share information, photos or video footage relating to the cases while they are ongoing. Now that the defendants in the Willamette Animal Rescue case have been sentenced, OHS can share photos from the rescue that were previously sealed. View some of these photos below.

All animals from this case received needed medical care and training at OHS and in foster care, then adopted into loving homes. We encourage anyone who adopted a Brooks rescue dog to share your story if you would like to: visit OHS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or tag your own posts with #OHSpets to be included in our social feed (view it here).