Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Washington: Teen Skylar Stevens and her mother Melissa Stevens arrested, accused of locking their pit bull in the garage and leaving him to slowly starve and freeze to death

WASHINGTON -- The daughter of a Washougal woman accused of letting the family’s dog starve and freeze to death in a garage was in court Tuesday to also face an allegation of animal abuse.

Skylar P. Stevens, 18, of Washougal appeared in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree animal cruelty in the death of 6-year-old Frantic, a male pit bull.

Stevens’ mother, 37-year-old Melissa M. Stevens, was in court last week on the same allegation.

On Jan. 6, Skylar Stevens’ grandmother, Debra Mattila, called 911 after finding Frantic malnourished and frozen to death in the shop of the attached garage of a house in the 500 block of K Street.

Mattila had been the owner of the pit bull, but let her daughter, Melissa, take over his care back in November 2016. She told KATU News she knew something was wrong by January.

“My daughter had told me the dog was fine, fed, warm - no problem. I just didn't trust them,” Mattila said.

Both her daughter Melissa and her granddaughter Skylar reportedly LIED and told her they had been feeding the dog, providing him with a heat source and checking on him regularly, according to a probable cause affidavit.

She says she knew Frantic was being kept in a shed at the back of the property, so she tried desperately to get in.

Frantic was kept in the locked shop on a cold concrete floor, covered with urine and feces, court records state, and in 20-degree temperatures.

“I knocked on the door, tried every key I had. No response from the dog, I had a feeling he was dead,” Mattila said.

Finally, her granddaughter helped her get into the shed. Debra found Frantic dead on the floor and immediately called police.


“The whole floor was covered in feces, he probably tried to eat his blankets. I can’t get the picture out of my head ... every time I think about it, it’s just devastating that she could do this right under my nose, I had no clue,” Mattila said.

Another family member told officers they last saw the dog healthy and of normal weight in mid-November, which was right after Mattila had given the dog to her daughter and granddaughter.

Skylar Stevens reportedly claimed that she had fed the dog that morning, and he was fine then, and the heater was on, the affidavit said.

Melissa Stevens claimed that the dog had "decent" living conditions. The heater may have come unplugged, she said, resulting in the dog’s death. However, Mattila told officers that when she discovered Frantic, the heater was blowing cold air, court documents show.

You're not supposed to leave space heaters unattended. They can burn your entire house down.


According to the officers who responded, the dog’s water bowl was frozen, his bed was torn and chewed up, and there was no food in sight.

He ate his bed because he was slowly being starved to death by Melissa and Skylar.

A necropsy performed the next day found that the pit bull weighed 50 pounds less than he did when he was living with Mattila and she'd had his weight recorded by the vet. 

The veterinarian concluded that Frantic died of starvation and had frozen to death in the unheated shed. There was no food in his stomach or digestive tract, according to the affidavit, proving that both Skylar and Melissa were lying about having fed him.

On Tuesday, Judge Daniel Stahnke appointed Skylar Stevens an attorney and set her bail at $5,000. She will be arraigned, along with her mother, Friday.

“I just pray to god he’s in doggy heaven, running free and happy, and he never has any more suffering,” Mattila said.

Full name: Skylar P. Stevens
Arrest age: 18
Arrest location: Clark County (Vancouver), Washington
Arresting agency: Clark County Sheriff's Office
Arrest date: 01/23/2017
Court date: 01/24/2017

(The Columbian - January 24, 2017)