Court battle over notorious Bellevue cat ramps up this Friday

Oct 21, 2020, 2:05 PM | Updated: 3:25 pm
Miska Bellevue cat...
Miska in a cage outside. (King County Animal Control)
(King County Animal Control)

Over the summer of 2019, a Bellevue cat named Miska was said to have killed dozens of neighborhood pets. Miska’s owner, Anna Danieli, then filed a lawsuit alleging Animal Control had unfairly targeted her pet, and now, that legal battle will soon begin to play out in court.

Notorious Bellevue cat said to have killed ‘dozens’ of pets since 2012

That will come in the form of a hearing in Pierce County Superior Court on Friday, Oct. 23, where Danieli’s lawyers will ask the court to void the cat’s alleged violations dating back to 2016. Danieli is arguing that because King County “instituted major changes to county code” in 2016 while Bellevue “failed to update their own municipal codes,” the King County Hearing Examiner does not have “and never had” the ability to pass judgment on Bellevue animal cases filed against pet owners.

“We believe the motion clearly sets out how the King County Hearing Examiner lacked the appropriate legal authority to hear animal enforcement cases from Bellevue because of Bellevue’s failure to update its own laws,” said Jon Zimmerman, one of two lawyers representing Miska and her owner. “Given King County’s continued prosecution of Miska, we hope the Court will grant the family some modest relief.”

Many of Miska’s violations predate 2016, although several complaints against the cat have been filed in the time since.

In September of 2014, a “confinement order” was issued against Miska for her alleged crimes. That essentially amounted to house arrest, requiring that her owner keep her in a fenced area secured “with a padlock to prevent accidental release,” or leashed when outside the confines of her property.

Danieli took issue with the order, filing an appeal in October 2014. In the appeal, she claimed that over a two month period, she observed six other unconfined cats in the perimeter of her neighbor’s address, “including one closely resembling Miska in stripes and coloring.”

How much King County has spent prosecuting a Bellevue cat

Danieli cited a lack of evidence to prove Miska truly was the culprit behind the various animal deaths. In a pair of cases before the King County Board of Appeals, however, board members twice pointed to a “preponderance of evidence” behind the issuance of fines for “vicious animal at large” charges. That evidence included several photos and videos of Miska chasing, attacking, and maiming other animals.

Attorneys for Danieli believe that if Friday’s motion is sustained by the court, it could have wide-ranging effects on pet owners across the region.

“One of the significant issues is how the judge’s decision in this case could potentially affect a significant number of people in the City of Bellevue (or any other contracting city in King County that has failed to properly update its municipal code) whose cases were decided based on either outdated or missing municipal code provisions,” they detailed on a website providing background in the case.

A full trial is set for 2021, separate from Friday’s motion filed by Danieli’s lawyers.

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Court battle over notorious Bellevue cat ramps up this Friday