Deputies arrest man on animal abuse charges after finding dogs that could barely walk

Booking photo for Russell Ikaikuala Fernandez alongside some of the animals found on his property - WCSO photos

SHERWOOD, Ore. – The Washington County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Sherwood man on six counts of animal neglect Tuesday after deputies served a search warrant and found dogs in crates. The dogs could barely walk.

The sheriff’s office says they received a tip in October after a woman surrendered two pit bull puppies from the suspect's property to an animal rescue organization in late September.

"They’re 9-month-old puppies. They were born in January. We saw them in a wire crate outside being hosed down by the owner and that’s how he would clean them, and that was very alarming and distressing for us to see -- puppies just hosed down with cold water living in their own excrement," said Meredith Nolan, director of Agave Dogs Rescue.

After speaking with a woman who had picked up the puppies, deputies learned they had been kept in deplorable conditions.

When a veterinarian evaluated them, the dogs were found to be malnourished and had an abnormal gait, likely as a result of being kept in small cages for the majority of their lives.

"When they got out of the crate it was like the first time they had touched grass. They were belly down on the grass just crawling across it, not wanting to stand up. They were just so shell-shocked and in sensory overload as far as wow, this is a new world and these people want to interact with me in a nice way," Nolan said.

Deputies served the warrant Tuesday on the property in the 19000 block of Southwest Pacific Highway.

They found four dogs confined in sheds and wire crates. None of the dogs had access to water and they found little food on the property. Some of the dogs were lying in their own waste.

Deputies seized four dogs, two donkeys and two goats, along with paraphernalia commonly associated with dog fighting.

The dogs were taken to a local animal hospital for further examination. The donkeys and goats are being evaluated by a veterinarian.

They arrested Russell Ikaikuala Fernandez, who lives on the property, on six counts of animal neglect and one count of possessing dog fighting paraphernalia.

"Dog fighting still definitely is going on in our communities. I’ve heard about it more down in southern Oregon. I was a little surprised to hear that there was dog fighting paraphernalia in this case. That’s probably would have been the fate of these dogs," Nolan said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact deputies by calling non-emergency dispatch at (503) 629-0111.

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