In late December 2008, the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office seized approximately 189 dogs, multiple chickens, cockatiels, and cats from a breeder in Ballantine, Montana. In the animal cruelty charges brought against the breeder, Yellowstone County made their case, in part, on the finding of 13 dead dogs on the breeder’s property. The number of dead dogs found on the property was reported in almost every Billings Gazette article related to this story published in 2009 and after. Approximately 279 articles were published in the Billings Gazette in 2009 related to the breeder and the charges brought against her.
What was NEVER published in 2009 in the Billings Gazette, NOR ANYTIME SINCE was the number of these seized animals that died brutal deaths while in the custody of Yellowstone County.
In less than 8 months in 2009, FIFTY-SEVEN (57) animals died brutal, horrific deaths while in the custody of the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office. As a volunteer who dedicated approximately 6 – 8 hours a day during the operation, I had no idea that many animals were losing their lives and to my knowledge, none of the volunteers did nor did the public.
As a matter of fact, in an article published in Yellowstone Valley Woman magazine months AFTER the operation was over, the author wrote that only one dog died after the rescue and the County employee/manager of the Metra operation was quoted as saying to the author, “I thought we might lose five to ten dogs, and we only lost one. It was a miracle.”
When government fights for YEARS to keep public documents from being released, when private citizens have to take their local government to court to view public documents that the local government has refused to release through discovery AND the Freedom of Information Act, only one conclusion can be drawn: they are hiding something.
In 2009, multiple volunteers who worked with the dogs and a member of the public brought suit against Yellowstone County for numerous violations and causes of action related to the 9 1/2 month operation overseeing the seized animals. One of the counts brought against Yellowstone County is Public Deceit. Only as a result of the Plaintiffs’ legal pressure has Yellowstone County privately disclosed a number of FIFTY-SEVEN (57) animals that died while in their care; FIFTY-SEVEN. To be clear, these are not deaths attributable to the breeder, but rather due to the negligence of Yellowstone County and its employees.
Why is no one accountable for their horrific, brutal deaths? Why were the deaths of these animals concealed from the public in 2009?
To the Plaintiffs, their lives mattered.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
When it comes to the government, financial records are public documents.
This seems to another issue Yellowstone County does not the public to know about.
Four years and counting for a trial date.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.