Diller due in court to petition the return of the 39 horses; still no charges filed by DEA on drug allegations

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By Bruce A. Smith

 Pierce County Animal Control has announced that Dr. John L Diller has filed a petition for the return of his 39 horses seized by the PCAC in late September. 

 Julie Anderson, the Pierce County Auditor and chief of animal control, issued a press release saying that her office had received the petition.  In response, Diller and the county are due in court on November 1, 2012 to resolve the equine case, the largest seizure of horses in the history of the PCAC.

 However, a larger and more troubling issue still remains.  The US Drug Enforcement Administration has still not filed any charges against Dr Diller despite its fifty-page affidavit of alleged wrong doing, most notably the over-prescription of pain killers and narcotics.

 Earlier, DEA officials had raided Dr. Diller’s property on Meridian in Graham seeking his medical and billing records, and apparently observed Diller’s 39 horses living in intolerable condition.  According to the county, the DEA then alerted the PCAC, who subsequently rescued the horses.

 Emily Langlie, the public information officer for the US Attorney General’s office in Seattle, told the Mountain News last week that “there’s nothing new,” regarding the Diller drug allegations.  “We have a lot of information to go through that we retrieved from the search warrant,” she said.

 Dr Diller is a family practice physician, maintaining a private medical office in Puyallup.  In addition to the DEA issues, Diller’s license to practice medicine has currently been placed on probation for two years by the state Department of Health’s Medical Quality Assurance Commission.  The MQAC assessed the penalty due to issues with Dr. Diller’s medical record keeping, most notably his failure to document adequate treatment planning and services.

 In the meantime, county taxpayers are taking care of Diller’s horses.  The primary issue appears to be the questionable condition of the stables at the Diller property. 

 Dr. David Best, a respected Graham horse vet, told the Mountain News that he was at the Diller ranch when the PCAC arrived and claimed he was “dumbfounded” that the county seized the horses.

 Best says he didn’t see any medical conditions that would warrant taking the horses.   However, he did acknowledge that one horse had a minor eye irritation, as if a speck of dust may have blown into an eye.

 “They (the PCAC) showed me the horse with a possible eye problem and honestly, I couldn’t see anything wrong,” Best said.

 Nevertheless, Dr Best did say that the barns and stable areas were “wet” and may have needed attention.

 “I went over there to do a job, to attend to the horses – not to inspect the barns,” Dr. Best said.  “I never felt that he (Diller) ever abused his horses.”

 Dr. Best said that he attended to Dr. Diller’s horses several times a year.

 “I know he (Diller) loves those horses,” Best said.  “I think the horses were his way to decompress (from the pressures of being a physician).”

 Dr. Best also said that he believed that Dr Diller was the primary family member caring for the horses.

 “John took most of the responsibilities for the horses – more so than his wife,” said Dr. Best.

 Whether Dr. Diller is repairing his barns prior to his court hearing is unknown.  The Dillers’ attorney, Lance Hestor, told the Mountain News during a phone interview that he thought a fix-up of the barns would resolve the animal abuse issue.  In response, the Mountain News has asked for a site visit, but no invitation has been received.  Further, direct communications with the Dillers has been unsuccessful.

 Regardless, the county will apparently be taking a close look at the Diller ranch before letting the horses return.  Ms. Anderson’s announcement specifically stated the legal parameters for release:

“(T)he burden will be upon the animal owner (Diller) to prove, by a preponderance of evidence, that the animals will not suffer future neglect or abuse and are not in need of being restored to health.  The Judge will decide whether to return the horses to the animal owner with court imposed conditions or deny the petition which will allow Pierce County Animal Control to proceed with the adoption process.”

 Further, the prospect of animal abuse criminal charges being filed is unclear.  Anderson’s press release states: “If criminal charges are filed before the hearing date, the petition will be joined with the criminal case,” but Ms. Anderson later told the Mountain News in an email that the PCAC will deliver the case file to the Prosecutor’s Office after the November 1 petition hearing is concluded.  However, she stressed that the hearing and the possibility of Diller receiving criminal charges are separate issues.

“This hearing is NOT related to the criminal investigation,” Anderson told the Mountain News in an email.  “It simply provides the owner the opportunity to reclaim his property, pending trial.  The judge could grant full, partial, or no release of the horses.  The judge can also order conditions to be met prior to release, and / or an inspection plan to monitor the horses if returned.  It’s difficult to anticipate what they judge may order.”

 Nevertheless, Ms. Anderson reiterated her commitment to provide excellent care to Diller’s horses.

 “The animals are still in our care and doing well.  We do not know how long we will have custody of the horses.”

 Assisting the PCAC is the Tacoma Equine Hospital.

 “This entity has been – and continues to be – the primary veterinary service on this case,” Anderson told the Mountain News.  “We work regularly with them, under contract.”

 In a strange twist, the original vet attending the horses, Tricia Arnold, is no longer on the case, and in fact has left her employment at Tacoma Equine.  However, Ms. Arnold has not been available to discuss her actions.

 When asked if this occurrence reflected upon the case in any way, the PCAC’s Anderson said:  “I know nothing about their (Tacoma Equine) personnel or staffing.  We continue to be satisfied with their professional services.”

 In another odd development, several supporters of Dr. Diller have contacted the Mountain News alleging that he is being railroaded by Big Government so that the Graham landfill on Meridian can expand across the roadway by seizing his lands.  After much research, the Mountain News has not uncovered any evidence indicating that scenario exists.  Rather, LRI, the division of Waste Connections that owns and operates the landfill, says that they have sufficient land and permits to continue receiving garbage at their current facility for decades.  Several county agencies confirm that perspective, such as the Department of Health and the Solid Waste Advisory Commission.

 ©  2012  Bruce A. Smith

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9 Responses to Diller due in court to petition the return of the 39 horses; still no charges filed by DEA on drug allegations

  1. catalina says:

    I get the feeling that something else is going on. There are too many loose ends.

  2. Are they going to give him a change of venue? God knows every time Pierce County is involved, the courts go right along with the county. He needs a different county to hear this case. (Voice of personal experience with the water fluoridation case.)

  3. country Girl says:

    Dr. Diller cares for his horses greatly. He had a barn full of hay. His stall cleaner quit and he was trying to find another one. It’s quit disapointing when we dont have anything else todo but pick on a couple that works so hard to support their horses.

  4. Al Pastuszek says:

    This appears to be an unwarranted seizure. I am across the country, however, it appeared to be a 12 stall barn and 39 horses. I did not see the conditions reported but a recently messy barn. Moving that many horses at once will cause them to be unruly. Officials are extremely lucky that they didn’t cause the injury or death of a few of them with their actions.

    This sort of heavy handed local government action is deplorable. I hope the residents of this area will stand up and demand this man’s horses to be returned with no further need of action on his part.

  5. Apparently the neighbors came together and helped clean up and repair the barns and the farm. One even brought out a tractor and took out the blackberries and weeks and helped put in landscaping. You should go out a get a photo if they’ll let you. The neighbors are supporting the Dillers. That should say a lot. I spoke with a 15 year old girl at frontier Park who helped muck out the barns and a local feed supplier who helped out with organizing repairs. These are healthy horses who have a loving and capable owner.

  6. That was supposed to be “weeds” not “weeks.” This thing doesn’t allow corrections.

  7. Make it right says:

    This government made mess is about greed and power. This is nothing more than the Pierce County the DEA and LRI working together to take a beautiful ranch worth a lot of money from hard working Americans. Stand up and speak out.

  8. Stand for truth says:

    This is a sad case. Julie Anderson some how wants this to be about the animals. It is not!! She was in the court room for this case, that lasted the whole day, when Diller was going up on the stand, darkness from an unknown area came from her. She wants something he has. I helped at the Dr. Diller a couple of time’s. Now that I did that, I have planes flying over our home. All I did was help someone. Others that helped are getting threaten and flying over their homes as well. Is this because of animals, I don’t think so. One sad moment in court was animal control officer Jodi P. said John, (said please don’t take my horses, tell me what I need to do.) Oh how my heart broke for his pain. Every horse owner better find the truth when these story’s appear in the news. His horses were taken when they showed up. He was not given any choice about his horse’s. We all should have 30 days to get things better. The horse’s now are in stalls and not getting out. At least when they were home the had room to go outside. They said one horse died. Not because it was sick, they say it was colic. This was a very valuable horse. I wonder if someone has this horse. Maybe it is still alive. They had blood work presented in court and Dr Barth said it is impossiable for 4,000 count go up 8.000 in three weeks. On the stand this was not corected to help Dillers case. The lab result was false but they did not correct it. Why!!! John takes care of the horse’s and yes some are 30 and older. Come on horse owners we all have horse’s with different needs, different body styles. Everyone that knows Dr. David Best he is a good vet. Now to their vet they discredited him, and the court allowed it. John’s rights were taken from him and it could be done to any of us. We all need to help others if they need it. I think that would save this world so much money. (ANIMAL CONTROL) John has not been charged with anything. Not arrested, nothing. Why turn his life upside down. What do they really want from him. I have two people wanting to know about Julie Anderson’s non profit LLC. On the internet I can not find anything. It is as if she has everything cleaned up for her. I see that is a way to hide the truth. Lets all stand up for what is right. Don’t let someone tell you a story and allow someones right to be taken from them. It could be any of us, if our right are taken from us, they can do anything they want. Take a stand for truth.

  9. Rose says:

    I agree! They took my rights away too when they took my dr down! The devil is at work & I pray GOD will prevail in this matter! I will tell the truth & that Diller is a GOOD man= unlike the people pushing these rules & laws! Leave him have his right to peace from you criminals!

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