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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

6 June 2007 Special Edition






Denali, a young tan and white female American Pit Bull, was impounded by Wasco County Animal Control in July 2004. She has spent two and a half years on death row in Wasco County, Oregon. Despite the fact that humane alternatives have been present from the outset, that the incident was minor, and that future incidents are preventable, Wasco County has refused clemency. Denali has had a long term offer of sanctuary from a pit bull sanctuary in Indiana run by a former animal control officer.

Denali was ordered put to death by Wasco County's three commissioners following an administrative hearing with no pretense of fairness or adherence to legal/judicial standards. The incident itself was minor, happening when Denali jumped up to greet a visiting child just as the door was being opened. Some questioned whether it was a bite at all as the puncture was more compatible with a scratch.

In fact, during an excited greeting Denali accidentally scratched the visiting child's chest and also caused a minor 1/8 inch tiny puncture to the webbing near the thumb. Karissa Ball, Denali’s mom, treated both with peroxide and the family spent the rest of the afternoon tubing on the river.

The only prior history involved preventable minor incidents, that could easily be corrected by proper confinement – not death.. On two different occasions Denali had escaped over the fence once after hearing the senior citizen next door dragging her garbage cans to the curb, another while the same citizen was raking her drive. On both occasions after hearing these loud noises, Denali grabbed the fingers of the woman, breaking the skin. The woman made light of both incidents. The dog got scared and reacted. She did not "attack."

During the "trial" held by the Wasco County Commissioners, none of the rules and regulations guaranteeing judicial due process were honored. The rules were whatever they wanted them to be which is how things are done in Oregon when it comes to animals. The opinions and wishes of government authorities and their cronies are all that are considered. No animal behavior experts were included. The availability of humane alternatives was ignored.

Two safe humane alternatives to killing Denali were proposed and were summarily rejected. First, to save her dog, Karissa Ball relocated removing the spoken concern about a nearby elementary school. She also additionally constructed an eight foot fence around her new home.

Second, a former animal control officer in Franklin, Indiana, who also runs a Pit Bull rescue and sanctuary reviewed Denali's entire history and wrote to the Wasco County Commissioners offering Denali sanctuary. Without review or interest, they rejected the offer on September 7.2004.

Those concerned citizens who called the Wasco County Commissioners were treated to a series of propaganda misstatements, exaggerations and falsehoods by the Wasco County administrative office regarding the events leading to their conclusion that only death was an appropriate sentence for Denali. They withheld information about the availability of effective humane alternatives.

Like the administrative proceedings themselves, public concerns were railroaded through a negative political smear campaign. In order to "win," to justify killing a young dog, any method was fair game. The administrative secretary at the Wasco County Commissioners' Office laughingly dismissed public concerns as animal advocacy histrionics.

Denali's case is one among hundreds of local miscarriages of justice in Oregon where the fates of animals especially in rural areas are decided not by judicial process but by biased politically motivated administrative bodies, the local county commissioners. These are kangaroo courts without even a pretense of due process where animals' lives are treated as an uproarious joke.

In Denali's case the Wasco County Commissioners know well that "liability" concerns they had voiced can easily and effectively be resolved. They just don't care – and no one had best challenge their "authority." They don’t like people who defy them.

Ironically Wasco County has made arbitrary needless killing more expensive than clemency in Oregon spending countless monies on this case.

Denali taken and killed in secret location

According to reports, Brad Heinige, the Wasco County Animal Control Officer, arrived at Home at Last shelter at about 4:00 P.M. yesterday, and without comment began removing Denali's collar and tags. He refused to tell staff where he was taking her. He then drove Denali to a secret location where she was immediately killed. No one was allowed to know where she was going or why.

During the time Denali was dying between 4:15 to 4:30, I was talking to Wasco County Commissioner Dan Ericksen on the telephone about her case. He accused me of being "rude" for allegedly interrupting his discourse on his personal need to kill Denali and hung up demanding an apology, never mentioning that she was dying at the time we spoke.

Together with DA Nisley and Officer Heinige, Wasco County Commissioner Mr. Ericksen, plotted the secretive killing of Denali before the issuance of the appellate judgment and while a motion to the County Court was pending. He obviously chose the holiday weekend hoping that during the Memorial Day weekend none could reach them and this would "blow over" by Monday.

But, this is typical of Wasco county government -- unlawful, out of control. Lawful government doesn't abduct a small frightened animal from her caretakers and deny them the right to say good bye and kill her at a secret location.

Clearly this was orchestrated, a calculated plot on when and how to kill Denali made far in advance to silence any legitimate protests or remaining legal avenues. It is despicable behavior for government officials to secretly connive over the death of a young animal who all along had somewhere to go.

Animal Control Officer Heinige is now on "vacation" after his dirty heist and has notified his staff at the sheriff's office "he won't be taking voice mail." You don't hit and run over the helpless then high tail it like a dishonest coward. Mr. Heinige 's telephone number is (541) 296-5454. I assume he will be coming back to his "work" in a week.

The Wasco County Commission Administrative Assistant Ms. Mcbride, urges all who call about Denali to take their concerns to the County Counsel's office. She and Ericksen both wish to hide from any reaction to this despicable act. Call and Fax both parties.

DA Nisley has instructed us that he only wishes written communications. Ignore his preferences. He paid no attention to ours for compassion and integrity. Feel free to communicate in as many different mediums as you wish: write, fax and/or call him. Pictures of Denali were posted on Karissa Ball also has many others. If you google Janna Hage + Denali you will see a video of Denali joyfully playing with a bowling ball on U Tube while Janna Hage attempts to justify that Denali was only fine in their environment not elsewhere. That is false. Denali needed a good fence and training, nothing more It is a tough time for little American Pit bull dogs. They are hunted down and killed just for being little pit bull dogs.


Governor Ted Kulongoski
160 State Capitol
900 Court Street
Salem,Oregon 97301-4047

Governor's Citizens' Representative Message line
(503) 378-4582

FAX: (503) 378-6827

fill out form at : 

U.S. Representative Greg Walden
website for e-mail correspondence: 
address: 210 Longworth House Office Building, Washington D.C. 20515


mailing address:
Wasco County Court
511 Washington Street
The Dalles, OR 97058-2237

Telephone: (541) 506-2520
Fax: (541) 506-2521

District Attorney Nisley
same address as above, Suite 304
Telephone: (541) 506-2680
Fax: (541) 506-2681

Dan Ericksen, e-mail: [email protected] The "Decider"
( Mr. Ericksen is listed as a judge for the purposes of county commission administrative proceedings. This does not require a legal or judicial background. Mr. Ericksen is an orchardist.
Bill Lennox, newly elected Democratic Wasco County Commissioner, ,e-mail: [email protected]
Telephone: (541) 506-2523

Sherry Holliday, e-mail: [email protected] 


The Dalles Chronicle
P.O. Box 1910
The Dalles, OR 97058
Telephone News: (541) 296-2141
News Fax: (541) 298-1365

Letters to the Editor, e-mail: [email protected] 

The Oregonian, Regional correspondent: Matthew Preusch
Telephone: (541) 382-2006
Fax: (541) 610-1528
e-mail: [email protected] 

From: [email protected] 
(Karissa -- Denali's mom) February 23, 2007 What you don't know could hurt her. Fighting to save my precious dog, Denali.
For quite some time I have kept quiet about the truth. Some of you may be wondering why I am still fighting for Denali. Why do I continue to try after what seems to be endless defeat?

Denali was born 12/12/2001. I had been anticipating all week to hear of the puppy's arrival. I picked her out, pick of the litter and brought her home a few weeks later. Denali turned out to be a beautiful girl, a companion and part of my family. She was very active, loved to go for rides, go swimming, dive for rocks and catch Frisbees. She loved snuggling under the covers with you and playing with our other pit bull Guapo to whom she acted as surrogate mother to. She's so cute how she cocks her head to the side when you talk to her. A lot of people do not know what a good, loyal dog she is and never gave her a chance because she is a pit bull.

I am fighting for her life because this case was built upon a lie. A lie that says Denali bit then 7 yr old Austin Keller. A lie that says that he was knocked to the ground, attacked, bitten, in turn making him deathly afraid of dogs. The truth is that Austin was greeted by an overly excited Denali, who jumped up on him scratching him and frightening him. The puncture on his hand most likely caused the same way the puncture on his chest, by her long claws. He was never knocked down to the ground and was not bitten. The truth is one of the first things that his mother asked him was "Did she bite you?" and he replied "No momma, she just scratched me." Meanwhile his father comes over, not to check the welfare of the child but to demand I let my dog out so that he can shoot her. With his wife telling him to calm down he then calls the police before finding out the facts and reports that Denali had bitten his son. Austin Keller's wounds were so minor that he didn't go to the hospital; in fact he didn't go to the doctor until 2 days later. After swimming in the Columbia River later that day and riding bikes out side with his brother the next day, it had become infected.

Approximately one year later in the summer of 2005, Jerry and Austin Keller came in to my place of employment. With other employees and customers around, he came to me and began to apologize. He told me that he was sorry he let his anger get the best of him, and that if he would have just calmed down then we wouldn't be in the mess. Austin then told me that he had seen Denali a few days earlier and that he visits the dogs at the shelter often. This is coming from a child that was portrayed as being "Deathly afraid of Dogs" by Senior Deputy D.A. Leslie Wolff. Interestingly enough, the Kellers just got a new puppy.

So the TRUTH is that people have let Fear, Anger, and Power get the best of them, forgetting what is right. Some of you have heard that I just flat out refuse to take responsibility. In Wasco County's eyes, taking responsibility is giving into what they want. I was taught to tell the truth and fight for what you believe. The TRUTH is that Denali should live

Subj: Denali
Date: 5/25/07 2:06:35 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: [email protected] (Robert Babcock)
To: [email protected] 

Copy of letter to Nisley follows:

May 25, 2007

Mr. Eric J. Nisley FAX: (541) 206-2681
Wasco County District Attorney
511 Washington Street, Suite 304
The Dalles, OR 97058
Re: Ball v. Wasco
County Court
Case No.:
CA A131672
Dear Mr. Nisley:

This will confirm receipt of your 5/25/07 letter (faxed to me at 8:10
a.m. this morning) reporting that Denali had been killed yesterday. I
have been told that the deed was done sometime between 4:00 and 4:30
p.m., about three hours after you advised me that Denali would be killed "unless an Order from the Supreme Court is served upon us staying this matter" and about 60 minutes following my response to that letter.

Setting aside any questions about the legality of your actions during
the period before issuance of the appellate judgment and while a motion
to the County Court was pending, it is clear that the process
culminating in Denali's killing was already in motion when you sent your
"will be killed unless" letter. Whether you engaged in "misconduct"
(see Rule 8.4 (a)) or simply "sharp practice" is a question for others
to answer. My own assessment is that your conduct - including the
refusal to give Karissa Ball an opportunity to say goodbye to her dog -
was reprehensible.

Pursuant to ORS 192.410, et seq., I request that you promptly provide
copies of all records maintained by your office and/or the Wasco County Court in paper and electronic format (specifically including all emails) in any way pertaining to Denali or Karissa Ball. I have submitted this request to you because of your apparent current role as "county counsel" but, if you prefer that it be submitted to someone other than you, let me know. If you contend that some of the records sought are exempt from disclosure, please identify each such record by date, time, and basisfor non-disclosure.


Robert E. Babcock

Robert E. Babcock
5800 Meadows Rd., Suite 220
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
503.317.0312 (cell)
503.224.0410 (fax)

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