West Seattle man charged with felony animal cruelty makes first court appearance; Held on $7500 bail
Friday Oct. 16 marked first appearance for Matthew Hazelbrook, who was arrested in a West Seattle animal cruelty investigation.
His home and yard contained cages with more than two dozen animals and 77 skeletons. He was arrested on the 15th.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office asked a judge to hold Mr. Hazelbrook on $40,000 bail and order him to have no contact with animals. A judge agreed on the condition to not be around animals, but set bail at $7,500. The judge also found probable cause for first-degree animal cruelty.
There have been no other previous cases referred to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office involving Mr. Hazelbrook.
FROM THE CHARGING DOCUMENTS filed by Officer Kim Hyung:
Upon arrival, I spoke with ARRESTEE/HAZELBROOK, Matthew Arthur at his residence (dispatched location). I showed HAZELBROOK a copy of the search warrant. A judge's signature was affixed to the warrant. HAZELBROOK was cooperative and sat outside while Animal Control conducted their search.
I observed about 25 animals in the first room of the house. The animals were in small cages that HAZELBROOK called, "transport," cages. Many of the animals did not have water or food in their cages. HAZELBROOK advised that he would be transporting the animals to the east coast soon.
Animal Control alerted me to unusual circumstances around the property. Specifically, the located deceased animals in varying degrees of decay. I asked HAZELBROOK for permission to walk around the home and property. HAZELBROOK allowed Officers to walk around the home and property and mentioned that he has nothing to hide.
Every room of Hazelbrook's home has animals living inside cages. The floors are covered with hay, animals feces and animal food. Inside the home, I noticed two recently dead animals inside cages.
In a structure behind the home, I observed two large animal skeletons. One skeleton was inside a cage. The other skeleton was on the floor. Both appeared to be dog skeletons. There was empty animal cages and other debris inside this dilapidated structure.
In the backyard of the home, I observed animal cages dumped off the back porch. The cages contained animal skeletons that were recently deceased since I still observed fur on the skeletons. I counted at least three.
HAZELBROOK mentioned that he owns the property next door at 5619 26th Av SW. HAZELBROOK gave Officers permission to search the structures on this property too. Inside the buildings, I located an estimated 75 skeletons of animals. All were in varying stages of decay.
Animal Control Units believed the animals to have died from a lack of food, water and medical attention.
HAZELBROOK explained that animals, like rabbits and guinea pigs, randomly die for unknown reasons.
I arrested Hazelbrook for Felony Animal Cruelty.
Sergeant Ortiz (6092) screened the arrest on scene
Unbelievable. He rejected one rabbit for transport from me out of 3 that he said had fleas. That was 2 years ago. He then spread rumours that my rabbits must live in squalor because the one had fleas. I didnt have that one very long. The others were fine. He spread this rumour so that 2 years later it came back to me. He has caused my rabbitry to lose money and transport. He had never been to my rabbitry although I invited him to look for himself that it is fine. I am beyond livid and crying for those poor animals!