Dog owner claims search illegal

Karen Chestney will be back in Island County District Court this fall claiming the search of her Camano Island home to rescue 79 collies was illegal.

Appealing her conviction on charges of second-degree animal neglect, Chestney claimed in Superior Court Sept. 25 that she did not receive adequate representation at the time of her plea, in June 2002. Chestney alleges that her attorney failed to file a motion to suppress the results of the search.

However, Superior Court Judge Vicki Churchill sent the matter back to district court.

Mike Henegan, Island County deputy prosecuting attorney, said Churchill ruled that she could not make a determination as to whether the motion to suppress the search would have prevailed, and that only the district court can make that determination.

“But if the search is deemed illegal in district court, it will destroy our case,” Henegan said.

The search and rescue operation was May 5, 2002, by Island County Sheriff’s deputies and animal control officers.

Seventy-five of the collies have all been neutered or spayed and adopted to private homes.

Chestney, and her husband, Paul, were convicted June 18, 2002, of second-degree animal cruelty for keeping 79 collies in inhumane conditions at their Camano Island home. Each entered an “Alford” plea at the time, meaning they maintain their innocence but believed the prosecution would prevail at trial.

Paul Chestney has served time in jail and on electronic monitoring.

The terms of the sentencing also include random visits by animal control officers to check the condition of the four dogs still owned by the couple.

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