FERNDALE - A Ferndale mother and son who abused animals four years ago were found in criminal contempt of court Wednesday, Jan. 2, for owning fish, birds, cats and dogs.
Maria Ann Huffman, 45, and her son Richard James "RJ" Huffman, 27, were convicted of starving two pit bulls in 2008, after dozens of malnourished animals were recovered from their home in a high-profile animal abuse case. Four dogs on the Huffmans' property had slit throats, but prosecutors said they couldn't prove who tried to kill them. One puppy survived.
The Huffmans were each given 90-day jail sentences and banned from having pets for five years.
Last summer, animal control officers removed 43 animals - flea-infested kittens, "emaciated" cockatiels and two dead fish among them - from the Huffmans' home on Tall Cedars Lane, according to charges filed in September.
Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Steven Mura found the Huffmans in contempt Wednesday for simply owning the animals. They both were given a suspended jail sentence of one month. Maria Huffman must serve two days behind bars.
The new abuse charges are part of a separate ongoing court case.
The Whatcom Humane Society also found evidence suggesting Maria Huffman kept two horses at a farm on Olson Road. One horse, Freckles, had a wound "swollen to the size of two tennis balls" on his leg, according to the abuse charges. Freckles had been hit by a car three months earlier. A vet cleaned and bandaged the leg, but Maria Huffman allegedly didn't follow up with the prescribed treatment, so the wound festered.
One four-week-old kitten was found thin, anemic, covered in fleas, dehydrated and, without medical treatment, "would have died in less than a week," wrote Deputy Prosecutor Eric Richey. The kitten survived after getting a blood transfusion from its mother.
Several other kittens were suffering from similar problems. One died despite efforts to save it.
Two of the Huffmans' parrots were found in cages coated with an inch of dried feces. One cockatiel had a breast bone "stuck up like a dull blade of a hatchet," a sign of starvation, according to the charges.
The Huffmans have a court hearing scheduled for Feb. 20. Maria Huffman refused to talk with a reporter about the case.
Reach CALEB HUTTON at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2276.