HANCOCK COUNTY — A horrific case of animal abuse and neglect has been discovered at a local county farm where more than a dozen farm animals have been found deceased. Dozens of other farm animals were found living in unsafe conditions without food or water for weeks, officials say.
Greenfield-Hancock Animal Management confirmed the situation with the Daily Reporter earlier this week but said they can not comment further on the situation right now.
“Unfortunately, we are still working on the property and it’s still an open investigation,” the Director of Greenfield-Hancock Animal Management said in an email to the Daily Reporter.
The plan is to finish the investigation on the property this coming week. Until then, they will not disclose the location.
County officials did note they had received word of a dead animal at the county farm located in the Shirley area off of Ind. 234, Jan. 6 and went to investigate. To their horror, animal care officials found multiple dead farm animals and other animals living in unsafe conditions, they said.
After immediately rescuing the animals they could, upon further investigation, officials found the remains of several more farm animals beyond the 10 they originally found when they first arrived. There were at least four deceased piglets locked in a small tool shed as well as two dead goats found inside a vehicle, a rescue group out of Brownsburg posted on social media.
Local animal care officials noted they planned to send the case to the Hancock County prosecutor’s office with hopes prosecutor Brent Eaton will file official charges.
Officials with Oinking Acres Farm Rescue and Sanctuary out of Brownsburg were called to help rescue the remaining animals. They’ve worked all week with other rescue units to save dozens of abused goats, cattle, mules, chickens and more. On their social media site, they noted there were many structures on the farm and it took officials a while to search the grounds.
They stated on their social media site that, when they returned after their first day to continue the rescue, they heard very faint cries coming from a locked shed elsewhere on the the property. While the owner insisted there were no animals in the building, upon further investigation rescue crews made a shocking discovery.
They found two recently deceased goats as well four live goats and a lamb all locked in the cab of a truck, crying for help.
Upon finding the deceased animals, officials stated there were more than 50 live animals including ducks, geese, chickens, goats, miniature mules, a donkey, sheep and a calf who needed immediate aid.
Officials with GHAM requested immediate assistance with the removal and placement of the surviving animals since the local shelter isn’t equipped to care for farm animals, so the group from Brownsburg as well as others have stepped up to help.
“The animals appeared to be starving to death as the owner admitted to not checking on the them for two weeks,” Oinking Acres Farm Rescue and Sanctuary owner Olivia Head posted on the Sanctuary’s social media page.
Officials with the rescue quickly put out a call to action to their volunteer group and immediately headed to the farm with crates and supplies when they got word on the situation late last week. They’ve since worked closely with local officials this week getting the last of the animals off the property into a safe haven.
“As soon as we pulled up to the property, you could hear the sounds of the goats and sheep,” Head said. “I have to say hearing them crying out in the dark gave me chills and set a somber tone for their situation.”
Officials were immediately able to rescue a calf, a donkey, a lamb, four pigs, chickens, geese, ducks and rabbits and got them the aid needed. They’ve spent the rest of the week rounding up the geese, chickens and other animals that were hard to catch.
“I don’t have all the answers and I don’t understand why or how. … I’m just gonna leave it here because the heartbreak of the suffering so many animals endure is heavy on my heart,” Head posted.
She also noted they were headed home this past Thursday with nine animals who had been released from the hospital including the four goats and the lamb found locked in the truck.
The local discovery of animal cruelty comes to light just as state officials brought the issue up for consideration at the State House during the current legislative session. This week, Sen. J.D. Ford, a Democrat, introduced Senate Bill 41. It would enhance various animal cruelty crimes from a level 6 felony, which has a sentencing range of six months to 2 1/2 years’ imprisonment, to a level 5 felony, which ranges from one to six years behind bars.
“We too often hear terrible stories of animal cruelty in Indiana…” Ford wrote on his twitter account. “I am introducing SB 41 to ensure that the penalty for animal cruelty better aligns with the crime after listening to the folks who want justice for animals in these cases.”
The recused animals which needed immediate care were taken to Purdue University, officials with the rescue said. The cost to care for the animals is estimated between $600 and $1,500 per animal. Anyone wishing to donate to the cause can visit their website or contact them at [email protected] for more information or reach out to the Purdue University Farm Animal Hospital with a donation. They can be reached at 765-494-8548.