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Cat lovers say the kennel is clean, animals are loved

By Gerrit Koepping

February 4, 1998

Island animal lovers are rallying behind Robert and Stacy Young, days after an anonymous flier alleged the Youngs brought an "illegal and diseased" cat kennel to Vashon.

The couple operated a cat sanctuary for years out of their West Seattle home. In 1996, Stacy received an award for her "outstanding service to companion animals" from the Progressive Animal Welfare Society.

About two months ago they moved their operation to Vashon and have been remodeling a house as a cat sanctuary.

Vashon Island Pet Protectors board member Anne Nanthrup said she has been at the Youngs' home a couple times and disputes any allegations of mistreatment.

"I can highly recommend the Youngs as animal lovers," Nanthrup said.

Two other VIPP members have visited the home and have to the same conclusions, she said.

"They are two of the good guys," Nanthrup said.


The flier alleges that the Youngs have between 200 and 300 cats but that a final tally is hard to determine "because of all the births and deaths from disease."

A Beachcomber reporter was given a tour of the Youngs' house and a nearby barn and saw no more than 50 cats. All of them Stacy Young knew by name.

Fair Isle Animal Clinic veterinarian Don Wolczko said the flier seems to be aimed at garnering an emotional reaction.

The flier asserts the cats have FIP " (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) which is also known as AIDS." It goes on to urge anyone with a cat to get themselves and their pet tested.

But FIP is a completely different virus than FIV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Wolczko said. Furthermore, there has not been a single case of a human contracting HIV or FIV from their cat, he said.

The couple say the fliers are part of an ongoing effort by the Church of Scientology to silence their criticism.

Both Robert and Stacy Young say they are former members of the church and they continue to be vocal critics. She recently appeared in an episode of 60 Minutes about the church.

"They're attacking the cats because they know how horrifying it is for us," Stacy Young said Monday.

The flier was distributed on Sunday, days before Robert Young says he was scheduled to testify against the church in Germany.

Scientologist Linda Ciotti in Seattle denied Monday the church is involved with making or distributing the flier.

"I'm the director of public affairs. If the church were to do something I would know," she said.

She said she is not familiar with the Youngs.

"I've heard the names but never had any dealings with them," she said.

On Sunday, two teens were handing out the fliers at Thriftway until a store employee told them to stop. He said the young men told him they were paid $10 to hand out the fliers by a man they had never met.

Islander Jolene Lamb said she saw a man in his 40s putting fliers on car windshields in downtown Vashon on Sunday.

Lamb said she approached him and asked for his name. She said he refused to give her his name but did say he was doing it for his mother and that she also wanted to remain anonymous.

"If you can't back it up with your name, it isn't worth nothing," Lamb said she concluded.

Lamb said she gave the man her name because she stood by her words.

"He was a total chicken as far as I was concerned," Lamb said.

The flier also alleges the couple received 10 citations for "illegal actions" while living in West Seattle.

Seattle Animal Control Officer S. Williams confirmed Monday there was an investigation into their facility after several complaints were received.

Investigators went to the facility and the animals appeared healthy, Williams said.

The couple did receive 10 citations for not having some of the cats licensed, Williams said.

They Youngs provided The Beachcomber with a stack of letters from their West Seattle neighbors who vouched for their care of the animals.

"The claim that their animals are abused or living in unsanitary conditions is one of the most scandalous accusations I have ever heard," wrote Joyce Russo.

Another neighbor, Jennifer Moran Callan, complained of the harassment the Youngs had suffered and mentioned anonymous fliers making false statements about the Youngs.

"It has completely opened our eyes to how easily unsubstantiated lies can be circulated," Jennifer Moran Callan wrote.

The Youngs said they moved to the island to avoid the harassment they suffered in West Seattle. They said they feared that the cats would be harmed.


Buyer's broker Emma Amiad said a few weeks after the Youngs moved to the island, she was approached by a private investigator from Los Angeles who asked about the Youngs and what they planned to do with the property.

The investigator asked if the Youngs knew anything about "deprogramming," Amiad said.

The investigator refused to say who he represented, Amiad recalled.

The same investigator asked permission to get into a county equipment yard next to the Youngs' house, said Jim Didricksen, King County Public Works Road Division Supervisor.

Didricksen told the man he needed to go through proper channels.

The man didn't say why he wanted to get into the yard, Didricksen said.

Ciotti, a director of public affairs for the church, said she has never heard of the private investigator that reportedly talked to Didricksen and Amiad.

The private investigator did not return two Beachcomber phone calls.

While the Youngs say the flier was upsetting, they say it will not dissuade them from their plans to turn their home off Vashon Highway into a sanctuary for abandoned and mistreated cats.

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