Embattled Vancouver pet groomer seeks to have charges dismissed


Kelly Carroll’s attorney filed the motion this week, arguing the governor’s order was too vague, and that his client’s business should have been considered essential

VANCOUVER — The attorney representing a Battle Ground woman charged with opening her pet grooming business in defiance of Gov. Jay Inslee’s shutdown order has filed a motion to have the charges dismissed.

Vancouver-based attorney Angus Lee filed his motion Tuesday in Clark County District Court.

Kelly Carroll was charged by the city of Vancouver with defying an emergency order after she reopened her PetBiz grooming business at 5620 NE Gher Road on May 16.

PetBiz owner Kelly Carroll is shown here in a YouTube video. Photo courtesy Kelly Carroll
PetBiz owner Kelly Carroll is shown here in a YouTube video. Photo courtesy Kelly Carroll

In his motion, Lee makes several arguments in Carroll’s defence, the primary one being that the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy’’ order issued on March 23 included an exception allowing “activities essential for the health and safety of family, household members, and pets,” as well as authorizing “caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household or residence.”

Vancouver Attorney Angus Lee. Photo courtesy angusleelaw.com
Vancouver Attorney Angus Lee. Photo courtesy angusleelaw.com

“This interpretation of the Stay Home Stay Healthy Order is not only accurate, but is the same interpretation arrived at, and espoused by, Petco, one of the largest pet service providers in the nation,” wrote Lee in his motion. “The existence of two reasonable interpretations of the Order indicates definitively that the Stay Home Stay Healthy Order is, at best, ambiguous.”

While the state legislature has not had a chance to weigh in on the governor’s orders, Lee notes that state law deems it an act of animal cruelty if a pet owner “fails to provide the animal with necessary shelter, rest, or sanitation,” in which sanitation is defined as “the act or process of making sanitary.”

Lee argues that such a definition would make animal grooming an essential business under state law, and that failing to allow such an activity might put pet owners at risk of breaking animal cruelty laws.

Lee further notes that Inslee has frequently amended the March 23 order, and issued over 100 executive orders so far this year, compared to 12 in 2019, and only seven the year before.

A motion to dismiss the charges against Kelly Carroll and her business, PetBiz, filed by Vancouver attorney Angus Lee.
A motion to dismiss the charges against Kelly Carroll and her business, PetBiz, filed by Vancouver attorney Angus Lee. Click to view PDF.

The sheer number of orders and amendments, Lee argues, could easily create confusion about which activities might be legal or illegal at any given time.

The final argument, Lee says, is that the charges are based on the account of one Vancouver Police officer who responded to Carroll’s business on May 19.

In that report, the officer noted that, while they were inside the business, “a customer picked up her two dogs and paid for the service with a credit card, so there was no mistaking that Carroll was open for, and conducting business at that location.”

Lee argues the officer would have needed to serve Carroll with a copy of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order, and then witness her violating it in order for charges to have been made.

Carroll made numerous social media posts prior to her reopening, including one noting it was “against (the) governors orders due to unconstitutional shutdown, tyranny and forced economical distress (sic).”

Screenshot of a post on Facebook announcing the reopening of PetBiz in Vancouver last May. Photo via PetBiz/Facebook
Screenshot of a post on Facebook announcing the reopening of PetBiz in Vancouver last May. Photo via PetBiz/Facebook

But Lee argues posts made on social media are inadmissible as evidence in such a case under the rules of corpus delicti, which holds that a defendant’s out-of-court confession, by itself, is insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

City Attorney Jonathan Young has taken over Carroll’s case, and declined to make any further comment on the matter. The motion for dismissal is currently scheduled for a hearing on Aug. 11 at 9 a.m.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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