Miska is a brown tabby cat living in Bellevue, and to many in her neighborhood is either beloved or loathed. Since at least 2014, the city and county leveled more than 30 animal violations and $30,000 in fines at Miska's owner, Anna Danieli, alleging the cat was terrorizing pets, killing animals and freely roaming the area.
In April 2019, Danieli and her legal team sued the city and county.
Her attorneys say there were several problems with how local agencies handled the violations. They allege that one of the neighbors who filed complaints against Miska was also the head of King County's Regional Animal Services, a ‘grave conflict of interest' and overreach by a government official, attorneys said. In 2019, attorneys told FOX 13 News that this same neighbor signed forms to have Miska impounded, shipped out of the county or even euthanized.
"The government is willing to spend incredible taxpayer resources to engage in this to the point where they’ve actually assigned four prosecutors to this case," said attorney Jon Zimmerman in 2019.
They also found evidence to suggest Danieli was not the only Bellevue resident subjected to enforcement of ‘outdated’ laws. Attorneys argued for change to the city code in how civil offenses involving animals are held, which was granted and put into effect in Dec. 2020.
"There may be recourse for other citizens who have been impacted by the same or similar incidents," said attorney Jeffrey Possinger. "From the start we advocated for real change and transparency in government. Not every case has wins that are tangible or simple, so achieving something very meaningful for our client and the Bellevue community is rewarding."
On top of the $125,000 settlement, city and county officials agreed to work with Danieli on policy recommendations.
"This case exposed how government officials can use their influence and positions to take unjust and unreasonable action against neighbors and other people in their personal lives," said attorney Jon Zimmerman.