Almeda Fire: Suspected Oregon Arsonist Charged With Animal Abuse

Published by Katherine Sullivan.

The body count of the catastrophic wildfires that have plagued the western U.S. isn’t limited to humans—and while the deaths of wild and companion animals mostly go unreported, Oregon’s Jackson County is recognizing multiple species as victims. We asked Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz to give the animals who experienced terror and agonizing deaths in the Almeda fire the chance for some small measure of justice, and he came through.

Michael Jarrod Bakkela was already facing arson, criminal mischief, and reckless endangerment charges related to a fire that he allegedly started in Phoenix, Oregon, which contributed to the devastating Almeda fire. After we contacted Markiewicz—urging him to charge Bakkela with violating Oregon’s animal protection laws—the accused arsonist was charged with eight misdemeanor counts of first-degree animal abuse, too.

Almeda fire arson suspect mugshot© Jackson County Sheriff's Office
Michael Jarrod Bakkela mugshot

We have high praise for Markiewicz and the Jackson County DA’s Office for charging Bakkela with “unlawfully and recklessly and cruelly” causing the deaths of a sheep, a canary, a lamb, a goldfish, two chickens, and a raccoon.

Are You and Your Animal Companions Evacuation-Ready?

The Almeda fire is contained, but other wildfires continue to burn across the western U.S., threatening the lives of countless humans and their beloved animal companions. Click below for tips on keeping all your family members safe.

Will Your Animal Companions Be Protected in a Fire?

Don’t Just Prepare for Wildfires—Help Prevent Them

While we hope other authorities will take a page from the Jackson County DA’s Office’s book, we need you to take action, too. Scientists have established a link between climate change and the country’s intensifying wildfires, and a leading cause of climate change is animal agriculture—which means that using animals for food and clothing is partially to blame for exacerbating these fires (not to mention starting them). Making the simple switch from eating and wearing animal-derived foods and materials to living vegan is one of the most effective things you can do to fight climate change. So click below if you care about the planet and the future of its inhabitants.

Fight Climate Change With Diet Change

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind