Kane County authorities found 10 dead animals and dozens of seriously ill animals on two farms. A small petting zoo facing eviction started moving animals to a secondary location. Both locations were problematic for the owner, who now faces misdemeanor charges for animal cruelty.
The investigation began when police got a call about a dead horse. They found the remains, along with those of a horse fetus, according to Lt. Pat Gengler of Kane County Sheriff’s Department. A search warrant gave officials access to her farms, where they also discovered a dead donkey, goat, two mini horses and four chickens.
Officials also noticed that many of the remaining animals were malnourished and dehydrated. “All of the water was completely frozen,”Gengler said. The fate of these animals and where they will go may be up to the courts to decide, but officials are hopeful that other petting zoos will step in and adopt the animals to provide the care they need.
In the meanwhile, animal control authorities have taken over the care of the 90 animals found on these properties. Those that have survived are dehydrated, were not given proper shelter from the cold and are in need of medical attention.
Stacy Fiebelkorn, 44, is the owner of the Mini Zoo Crew, located in Hampshire, IL. According to her website, the petting zoo claims to be a rescue mission for animals, though authorities said she never registered the zoo as a rescue organization with the state. She was arrested on Wednesday and charged with a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty and one count for failure to properly care for and shelter the animals. She posted the $150 bail and is free on a $1,500 bond.
This was not the first animal control issue for Fiebelkorn though. She has been cited before, in 2008, for not fulfilling her owner’s duties. She also violated a rabies ordinance. Authorities believe the owner started the rescue mission with good intentions, but was quickly overwhelmed. Caring for that many animals is a huge undertaking.
The cause of death will be determined, as the bodies of the dead animals are being taken to the University of Illinois for a necropsy. Rob Sauceda, Kane County Animal Control Administrator, said that the horse likely died from “red sacking,” where the placenta breaks free from the uterus too soon. He said it was due to “inadequate veterinary care.” He went on to explain that moldy hay was also a factor. The rotten food led to an early birth, even though the pregnancy had not reached the full term.
Though a court date has not been announced at this point, Fiebelkorn will not be returning to run the rescue mission. Sauceda was on site at the petting zoo for several days, working to rehabilitate the animals. He said it got to him and that what happened to the animals was unfair. He and his crew are providing temporary care and are working to give the animals food, shelter and the medical attention they need. The animals now have fresh food and heated water bowls, but they still need a permanent home.
By Tracy Rose
Kane County Chronicle