Allison Lance's offer of help to Kathleen Brandt and Barbara Regallo does not constitute unlawful harassment, San Juan County District Court Judge Stewart Andre ruled January 7, 2013.
Concerned the 21 goats and four horses, owned by the mother and daughter, did not have water, food or proper shelter, Lance wrote and delivered the following letter:
Dear Kathy and Barbara Regallo (Legal property owners of 66 Paradise Road).
As you know a group of concerned citizens of San Juan Island are concerned about the welfare on the animals residing on your property.
We believe and are substantiated by the advice of professionals that domesticated animals such as yours (horses and goats) should have access to regularly maintained clean (unfrozen water), daily feeding of the appropriate amount of quality foodstuff as required by size and breed of animal access to clean shelter that will protect them from rain, snow and wind.
We would like to help you in this regard. Please allow a group of four people to come onto your property as soon as possible to construct a shelter for your goats and create a place where water can be easily delivered and protected from freezing. We will not trespass on any of your personal areas or do anything that you request us not to do. The only intention we have is to provide a clean, protected area for your goats and a better system for you to provide your goats and horses clean water and food.
If this is agreeable to you please sign and return this letter to: Allison Lance.
We will be in touch to confirm a workdate and time to do the work on your property. We look forward to helping you provide a better environment for your animals.
Regallo told the judge the property has been under surveillance and people have been taking videos. She said she did not know if Lance was involved in those actitivies. "I don't know who they are," she said. As a result of the activities "I have suffered emotional stress and physical stress."
Brandt said she had observed Lance feeding the animals twice. The second time was on December 11. "I went to check on the animals and there she was again at the gate." One bale of hay had been thrown over onto the property.
"I'm wondering why someone has to come and feed my animals. I don't need anybody feeding the animals. We don't need anybody feeding the animals. They are in good health," Brandt said. "I have them on special diets...I don't know why she should be involved with my life. Is she an authority on anything?"
In 2003, Brandt appeared in court regarding animal neglect. As a result of that court case, animals were removed from her property, restrictions were placed on how many animals she could have and requirements made on how the few animals she could have would be cared for. The conditions were in place for a few years.
Lance tesified at the January 7, 2013 that the animals had no food, no water and there was inadequate shelter. The number of animals was too many for the one-acre available to them.
Regallo said the county Undersheriff Distler went out to the property in late 2013. Lance was then contacted by the Undersheriff and told that if she went on the property again and fed the animals she'd be arrested for trespassing.
In his ruling, Judge Stewart Andrew said Lance's contact with the two women was not strictly initiated by her. A copy of an email from Vinnie Vela to Lance was presented at the hearing. He wrote that Regallo had requested contact with Lance.
Regallo testified that was untrue.
At the beginning of the hearing, Judge Andrew read the legal definition of unlawful harrassement to the courtroom filled with three dozen spectators who supported Lance.
Since the contact by Lance - a phone call to Regallo at her home and work and the letter - was not designed to alarm, annoy or harrass, he dismissed the petitions for a court order to stop unlawful harrassement. Judge Andrew noted both parties were sincere in their beliefs.
Attorney Nick Power represented Lance. Brandt and Regallo did not have an attorney.
Neither Brandt or Regallo would comment after the January 7, 2013 hearing.