For the dog lovers who gathered at Thurston County Animal Services on Saturday morning, the crimes committed against Diamond, a pit bull, were unspeakable.
“I think it’s ridiculous that someone would do that to a dog,” said LaDawn Hauss of Yelm. “How someone can sexualize a dog is beyond me.”
About 25 people gathered in the parking lot near a table laden with flowers, dog toys and pictures. Some people, including Hauss, brought their own dogs to pay their respects to Diamond.
The 3-year-old pit bull mix was discovered hanging from a tree March 21 on Department of Natural Resources property near Summit Lake. The dog’s toes were just barely touching the ground, and her front legs were clutching the tree trunk, according to documents.
There was evidence that the dog had been sexually abused.
The suspect in the case, James L. Evans, 33, was arrested on April 9. He is charged with one count of first-degree animal cruelty and posted bail Wednesday.
Animal Services officer Erika Johnson spoke at Saturday’s event and said law enforcement officials and the Prosecutor’s Office are working to make sure Evans is prosecuted to the full extent of the law. She previously told The Olympian that a DNA test is underway to determine more details about the assault of the dog and whether the county will pursue a bestiality charge.
Karin Riley, who organized the memorial, said Saturday she hopes Diamond’s story will open lawmakers eyes to animal cruelty and that harsher penalties will come as a result.
“It’s very important that the story is kept alive, that people know what happened,” Riley said.
Riley said Diamond’s death particularly affected her because of the work she does with animals. She manages Animal Care Veterinary Clinic in Olympia, and founded Pibble and All Paws Rescue about a year ago.
The animal rescue agency has helped about 50 dogs, she said.
Many of the other people at Saturday’s event also were part of the local animal rescue community.
Hauss’ dog, Roq-C, is a rescued pit bull. Roq-C doesn’t fit the breed stereotype, Hauss said. She’s gentle, looks out for Hauss’ seven children, and helps her cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“These can be very sweet dogs,” Hauss said. “I don’t know why anyone would hurt them.”
Diamond’s owner also was present at Saturday’s event, but said she didn’t want to be named or pictured in The Olympian. She said Diamond was a sweet dog and is greatly missed by her family.