HANCOCK COUNTY — More details in a horrific case of farm animal neglect have been released by county officials this week. Over 100 farm animals living in terrible conditions on a piece of land in the county were subject to neglect and abuse, causing over three dozen of the animals to die, officials said.
Greenfield-Hancock Animal Management has been in control of the investigation and say the work surrounding an ongoing animal neglect case is still underway.
A total of 37 farm animals were found deceased on a property in the 10000 block of E. Ind. 234 in Wilkinson earlier this month after county officials were called to the area to check on reports of dead animals on Jan. 6.
Since then, 71 farm animals have been surrendered by the animal caregiver and taken from the property by rescue crews, Greenfield-Hancock Animal Management Director Amanda DeHoney wrote in an email to the Daily Reporter.
DeHoney noted while 34 deceased animals were left on the property for the caregiver to handle the remains, three deceased animals were collected and sent for legal necropsies.
“At this time, we will not share the results of the necropsies,” DeHoney said.
Officials were unable to catch four of the farm animals who are still on the farm and they left four other animals, two dogs and two cats, inside the home with the person responsible for the animals, whose identity has not been released at this time.
DeHoney turned her department’s report over to officials with the Hancock County Prosecutor’s office Wednesday, Jan. 18, she said. Prosecutor Brent Eaton and his staff will look into the report and determine from any recommendations if charges against the animal caregiver are warranted.
Eaton noted it could take several days, even a few weeks, to look at all the information in the case and iron out the details before his office makes a determination on charges.
“It is common practice when we get reports, which we get every day, that there are generally some key things we look for,” Eaton said. “Sometimes we look and reports are good to go, but in other cases we’re not quite ready to file and need other information. In some cases, we can never file for lack of the proper information, so we’re going to have to wait and see what we’ve got with this case.”
DeHoney and officials with the rescue groups who helped save 71 animals have stated they want to see charges filed in this case.
“We hope that they will do that and seek justice for the animals that cannot defend themselves,” DeHoney said.
Officials with the county’s shelter also stated they could not have saved as many animals as they did without the help of rescue groups and veterinarians from around the state.
Officials with Oinking Acres Farm Rescue and Sanctuary out of Brownsburg were the ones called to help take the remaining animals off the farm. They worked with another rescue group, A Critter’s Chance, and saved dozens of abused goats, cattle, mules, chickens and more.
Those with the rescue groups say they witnessed dozens of animals dead, injured or starved on the county farm.
“We’ve worked a lot of cases and I’ll definitely say this is one of the worst,” Oinking Acres Farm Rescue and Sanctuary owner Olivia Head posted on the sanctuary’s social media page.
Head noted there were many structures on the farm and it took officials a while to search the grounds, thus making for a long investigation.
While Head’s rescue regularly deals with surrendered, abandoned and abused animals, she calls what she and crews witnessed on the county farm heartbreaking. In an update on the rescue’s Facebook page, they describe finding dozens of dead, sick and hungry farm animals. She said that some pictures taken by the group were just too graphic to upload.
DeHoney noted GHAM officials called in rescue groups because the person in charge of the animals surrendered them to county officials.
“We do not have the space to care for that many farm animals,” DeHoney said. “A majority of the animals needed immediate medical attention and were transported to Purdue by the rescue.”
DeHoney noted that the rescue groups are the ones making sure the animals have safe shelter and are provided with all the medical care they will need.
“We would not have been able to do this without the help and support of the rescues who stepped up as soon as we put the call for help out,” DeHoney said.
The recused animals in need of immediate care were taken to Purdue University, where 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 Purdue University Farm Animal Hospital with a donation. They can be reached at 765-494-8548.