Following public outcry from a group of residents who say they’ve been held “hostage” by a neighbor’s roving, aggressive pack of German shepherds, Lewis County has taken the matter to court in an attempt to resolve the issue that more than a dozen issued infractions haven’t.
Jacob Hadaller, a convicted felon who lives on Birley Road near Mossyrock, owns the dogs that were last numbered at 16. Neighbors say the animals have attacked and killed livestock and pets, as well as threatening walkers and cyclists on the rural road. Hadaller was arrested after a SWAT raid in July on charges of possessing heroin with the intent to deliver, but is currently out on bail. He’s been issued more than a dozen infractions related to the dogs, which seem to have had no effect.
“This morning the county filed a complaint alleging a public nuisance against Mr. Hadaller regarding the failure to control the dogs that have been plaguing the community and Lewis County for a number of months if not years,” civil deputy prosecutor Cullen Gatten told county commissioners at a Tuesday meeting. “In addition, we’re going to seek a temporary restraining order to hasten the process to ensure there’s temporary relief within the community.”
The prosecutor’s office will make the case that Hadaller “obviously cannot and will not control (the dogs) in any way,” Gatten said. “That constitutes a safety risk for the community as well as their ability to enjoy the land they actually own.”
The legal approach comes after extended public pressure from residents, who have been frustrated that the county continues to issue ineffective infractions while they suffer. Many of them showed up to a hearing last month on a dangerous animal ordinance to offer their stories, and commissioners expressed dismay that the issue had not been resolved.
“I’ve been going through hell for a long time,” said Kat Carroll, who owns the Adytum Sanctuary, a bed and breakfast situated above the hill from Hadaller’s property. “The entire hill has been held hostage by this man.”
Other neighbors told of Hadaller’s dogs killing chickens, chasing horses and injuring other dogs. Dozens of incident reports obtained by The Chronicle show the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office responding to the property again and again. In one instance, an officer used pepper spray on a lunging dog. Another time, the responding officer used a baton to ward off one of the dogs.
In part as a response to Hadaller, the commission last month voted to make it a misdemeanor to incur more than five infractions over a 10-year period. Still, residents said the matter required more urgent attention.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” said one neighbor, who asked not to be named, fearing reprisals from Hadaller. “I’m very nervous. I carry pepper spray. … It’s awful.”
It appears neighbors have continued to pressure the county to take action.
“I got calls this weekend,” Commissioner Gary Stamper said Tuesday.
Deputy prosecuting attorney Eric Eisenberg told commissioners to direct complaints to the prosecutor’s office, so it can assemble evidence to support its bid for a temporary restraining order. The county has to show that it is “likely to win” the nuisance case in order to earn the restraining order.
“This type of lawsuit is a regular civil lawsuit, that like many civil lawsuits is slow, unless you do something to speed it up,” Eisenberg said. “Seeking a temporary restraining order is a way to get a hearing quickly on whether the person should, while the case is pending, have to be prevented from owning dogs.”
The temporary restraining order would be in place for 14 days. If the county wins its nuisance case, Hadaller would be banned from possessing, owning or breeding dogs in Lewis County. The county’s action only states that Hadaller could no longer own the dogs, but what their fate would be if they are taken away is unclear.
“We’ll cross that bridge,” Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said.