“Cruel and unusual punishment?” Yes! I witnessed such treatment, inflicted as well on some very fine and unfortunate animals. This occurred at the Nickerson family ranch home, in the area known as Upper Fords Creek in Clearwater County this past Nov. 12th.

The raid and seizure of all property was ordered by county prosecutor, Clayne Tyler, and executed by county sheriff Chris Goetz. The Idaho State Police also assisted, with K-9 and SWAT teams, as well as sniper personnel - - approximately 30 enforcement people.

The Nickerson Christian family farm housed chickens, goats, sheep and five Great Pyrenees sentry dogs. The Nickersons were lied to, causing them to be absent from their home when the property was seized and surrounded by enforcement cops. Animals were abandoned and left to fend for themselves, resulting in the dogs reacting naturally to this sudden threat, and doing their job, as trained, in protecting the lesser animals.

The totally normal barking of the dogs was met by enforcers attacking them with toxic pepper spray, even clubbing and possibly tasering them. Signs of cruel treatment of these loyal watchdogs were very evident, such as the stripes of pepper spray on their beautiful white fur, and abrasions (now scabbing) on their heads and backs. They had scattered in apparent terror, as two went missing, returning the next day. Thankfully, all were recovered.

Now, some may ask, “What other options did the enforcers have?” Perhaps Mr. Sheriff could have asked the Nickersons, camped about only a half- mile from their seized property, to send a couple of their young adult members down to the farm to rescue the traumatized animals.

I suppose it could have been worse, as, for instance, many of us remember Ruby Ridge, where enforcers actually shot and killed outright Randy Weaver’s dog, son, and wife!

But for the rest of the Nickerson story? The day following the brutal siege, the Nickersons were informed they had just a few hours to remove their abandoned, abused animals, which they did, working well into the night. I was there. The still-traumatized dogs would not load into my rig, and so the Nickersons had to walk them some miles to safety!

Patrick Johnson

Kamiah

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