Officials smell fowl play in Birch Bay bird case
Whatcom County Sheriff Sgt. Scott Huso said Wednesday morning that they have had contact with Michael A. Koenen, former owner of the 7061 Jackson Road property where animal rescuers found 84 dead domestic birds last week, but that no citations have yet been issued.
Koenen sold the four-acre property to the BP Cherry Point Refinery on November 19 for $325,000. According to refinery spokesman Mike Abendhoff, an employee had been assigned to care for the property, including feeding animals they found there.
But last week on November 29 staff from the Snohomish County animal rescue service Pasado’s Safe Haven went to the property and found 80 dead chickens, ducks and turkeys, many of them locked in pens without food or water, others dumped into garbage cans. Susan Michaels, founder of Pasado’s, said that the “horrible” smell made the situation obvious to her.
Michaels said that her Sultan-based agency had been contacted by a neighbor who had tried without success to contact three other animal rescue services in the area. The unidentified neighbor eventually found Pasado by Googling duck rescue.
SSP-Preferred Animal Care, the agency that once handled animal control services for much of Whatcom County, participated in the early stages of the investigation at the request of the sheriff’s office but their contract with the county ended on November 30, the day after the discovery was made. They were replaced on December 1 by the Whatcom Humane Society, but the sheriff’s office is handling the on-going investigation as a matter of possible animal cruelty.
Michaels said that a total of 24 birds were rescued, and that all of them have been taken to her shelter in Sultan.