The Alternative Humane Society of Whatcom County PO Box 2321, Bellingham, WA 98227 Phone: 360-671-7445 Website: www.alternativehumanesociety.com
For more than a year, the Alternative Humane Society of Whatcom County (AHS) has been involved in several related lawsuits initiated in Whatcom County. In 2019, an individual began suing AHS after she gave up a dog for adoption. AHS is an all-volunteer non-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to improving the lives of dogs and cats and helping them find and stay in permanent, loving homes. In the interest of transparency, we wanted to update the community about the situation involving the lawsuits.
In May of 2019, the person prepared, executed and transmitted an application to relinquish ownership of a dog to AHS. The applicant stated that both she and another dog had been injured in a recent altercation between the dogs and, based on fear of a reoccurrence and the fact that she was soon planning to travel to the northeast United States by car with three dogs, she found it necessary to relinquish this dog. The person and AHS worked together over a period of several days, and on May 11, 2019, an AHS volunteer met with the person and executed a Guardian Release Form, relinquishing all rights to the dog. The person left the meeting, leaving the dog and its belongings with the AHS volunteer.
Later that day, the person contacted AHS and requested that the dog be returned to her. The person asserted, for the first time, that the dog was a service animal. AHS declined to return the dog. This decision was based on the condition of the dog when relinquished and the information provided in the application. After AHS declined to return the dog, the person applied to adopt the dog from AHS. Again, AHS declined to return the dog.
The person subsequently sued AHS in the Whatcom County Superior Court. When that suit was dismissed, the person sued AHS in the Skagit County Superior Court. That suit was also dismissed. The person then sued AHS’s attorney, Adam Karp, in Whatcom County Superior Court and later joined AHS to that suit. That suit was also dismissed. Recently, the Washington Court of Appeals affirmed the Superior Court’s decision to dismiss the person’s lawsuit against AHS.
While the various lawsuits were pending, the person began harassing members of AHS’s Board of Directors. To date, two members of AHS’s Board of Directors have gone to court and received anti-harassment orders to prevent the person from contacting them. The person has appealed both of those cases. Both appeals were recently dismissed by the Division I of the Washington State Court of Appeals. The Whatcom County District Court recently granted a request by AHS’s president for an order protecting her from the person for five years. The Whatcom County Superior Court has also issued an order preventing the person from filing any future lawsuits regarding ownership of the dog unless the Court of Appeals overturns the Superior Court’s decision.
Recently, the person has started placing fliers around Bellingham seeking information about alleged animal abuse committed by AHS. The fliers are false and a baseless attack against AHS, with the singular purpose of damaging our reputation.
AHS remains committed to serving Whatcom County and is appreciative of all the support that this wonderful community has provided us during this trying time. This situation has caused significant stress among our board members and volunteers, and we look forward to putting it behind us and focusing on finding homes for animals.
If you have further questions, you may contact our attorneys, Adam Karp and Stephen W. Jackson.