Everett hedgehog breeder avoids penalties after investigation
EVERETT — Police have declined to file charges against a breeder accused of housing 53 hedgehogs in dirty enclosures.
Kristina Brouner passed two inspections by city animal control officers and agreed to buy a commercial facilities license for Hedgehogs Northwest, a home business she started in 2006.
“At this time we are not moving forward with charges, but we will continue to monitor the situation,” said Glynis Frederiksen, manager of the Everett Animal Shelter.
“She will be subject to ongoing inspections to ensure that any animals in her care are receiving adequate care.”
Police investigated Brouner at the behest of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) after Hedgehogs Northwest was
cited for sanitary violations during a routine federal inspection.
“The hedgehog enclosures have excess fecal material and soiled bedding present,” noted a United States Department of Agriculture inspector in a June 13, 2019, report.
Some of the feces and bedding had spilled onto the floor of the room housing the enclosures, a space cited for “clutter, dust and debris…and cobwebs.”
A repeat inspection on Feb. 13, 2020, recorded marginal improvement.
This time “most” of the enclosures had excess fecal matter and soiled bedding. Brouner told inspectors it had been “at least two weeks” since the hedgehog enclosures had been cleaned.
The February report marked the seventh time Brouner has been cited by the USDA for sanitary violations. She had previous citations in July 2016, September and December 2017, March 2018, and February 2019.
It also caught the attention of PETA.
“What PETA finds is that the USDA is documenting abuse and neglect that violates state animal cruelty laws,” said PETA’s investigations manager Dan Paden. “Yet USDA does not prioritize sharing that information with local law authorities, unfortunately.”
Brouner said in an e-mailed statement that she had been sick for two weeks prior to the February inspection, “so the cages were in worse shape than usual.”
She said previous citations related to the surrounding area rather than the hedgehog enclosures themselves.
“I’ve never claimed to be the best housekeeper,” Brouner said, but “anyone that knows me, knows that I love my animals and take great care of them.”
If the USDA were to inspect her now, she is “confident” they would find no violations either inside or outside the enclosures.
Brouner is one of about four hedgehog breeders in Washington state.
On the Hedgehogs Northwest website, she calls the enterprise a “side business.” Her full-time job is a brain research specialist in Seattle.
She sells a baby hedgehog for $175, along with a $185 “starter pack.” Brouner also sells hedgehog food and homemade hedgehog sleeping bags ($9 apiece).
She started Hedgehogs Northwest with her sister, who has since left the business. Brouner admits this leaves her pressed for time.
As her website informs customers:
“If I am slow to respond to you, I am sorry but the hedgehog business is a side business apart from my full time job and chances are that if I have not responded to email, that’s because I spend the limited amount of hedgehog time that I have making sure that the animals are well taken care of so that you can get a healthy and friendly pet.”
Paden, PETA’s vice president of evidence analysis,
praised Everett police for responding to the activist group’s complaints.
“We would trust that Everett officials will keep a very close eye on this facility going forward,” Paden said. “(Brouner) has now been told repeatedly by both federal and state authorities.
“If more violations are found, we would expect charges to be filed and prosecuted, as a small measure of justice for those animals.”
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