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Originally Posted: 2 May 2009
Demand Prosecution for Men Who Starved Horses
Please demand that the District Attorney do a proper investigation to determine what caused these horses to die. If they indeed were starved to death as all information provided thus far indicates, the owners need to be charged with gross neglect and animal cruelty.
As of this writing, the sheriff has decided to not bring charges.
Hon. Jay Conley, Oconto County District Attorney
Michael C. Hodkiewicz - Clerk of Courts
Chairman, Oconto County Judiciary Committee
Member, Law Enforcement/Judiciary Committee
Leland T. Rymer
Chairperson of the Oconto County Board
Vice-Chairperson of the Oconto County Board
Michael Jansen, Head of Oconto Sheriff's Department
SAMPLE LETTER (Write your own letter, using talking points below)
I am writing to ask you to thoroughly investigate an incident that happened last month involving the discovery of two young, dead horses found lying in the Michickanee woods in Oconto County.As a person who cares about animals, I am very disturbed that no charges have been brought against the owners of these animals.
A citizen provided very graphic photographs that clearly showed these animals were in very malnourished--starved would be a better word!--condition at the time they were discovered.According to the sheriff who supposedly investigated and tracked down the owners, he reported that the owners told him the horses had died four weeks before of natural causes and they couldn't afford to have someone dispose of the carcases so they paid a nephew and his friend. to dispose of them. Instead the nephew and his friend just dumped them to rot in the forest.
Please, in your investigation, consider these important questions:
1. Why wasn't a veterinarian contacted to examine these horses to determine the cause of death?
2. The owners are reported to have other animals. Why weren't those animals checked for health and overall welfare?
3. Why did the sheriff "bury" these animals before a determination was made as to the cause of death?
The sheriff claims the animals looked "starved" because of decomposition. I am certainly not an expert, but wouldn't these animals be in a far less recognizable state if they were in fact, dead for four weeks, prior to be discarded in that wooded area? Here again, a veterinarian should have been called to the scene to determine if these horses were extremely malnourished or simply decomposed. It appears that the sheriff, for whatever reason, decided not to investigate this incident properly. I'm sure your state has clear laws that address animal cruelty and neglect.
Here was an incident that raises a red flag about cruelty and neglect and yet no action has been taken to find out what really happened. It is truly unconscionable to allow an animal to starve to death and should be a crime in your state. There are organizations and concerned citizens that could have stepped in to help.
To turn a blind eye to cruelty to animals is not unacceptable in a truly civilized society. I call on you to do your job and file charges against the owners of those horses.
People who are cruel and abusive to animals generally have little regard for their fellow man. A lack of empathy and compassion can easily result in violent treatment to humans. Volumes have been written on the link between animal cruelty and human violence. I believe that crimes against animals should be vigorously prosecuted to stop the escalating cycle of abuse. No matter if the victim has two legs or four, fins, feathers or fur--it suffers! Society as a whole is becoming far less tolerant of cruelty to animals and recognizes suffering regardless of victim.
A man walking his dog in the Michickanee forest came upon the bodies
of these horribly abused horses. A local horsewoman took several good photos and contrary to what the so-called owners are saying, these horses were STARVED. I'm not an expert but they have almost no flesh on their bodies and if you compare them with the photos of horses appearing in the attached body weight scale, you'll see that they more than likely starved to death and that their appearance is NOT due to decomposition. According to the sheriff, he tracked down the owners and was told by them they had been dead for four weeks and died of "natural" causes.
If this were anywhere else, the man would have been prosecuted. But the sheriff in rural Wisconsin decided to simply bury the horses. See link to news story.
The naive sheriff never bothered to have a veterinarian examine the horses to determine if there was foul play involved or that they were indeed dead from being starved to death. Instead, he buried their bodies and accepted the story from the two owners.
STATEMENT REGARDING THE DEAD HORSES DISCOVERED IN THE MACHICKANEE FOREST ON MARCH 22, 2009:
It is my intent to prosecute the persons allegedly responsible for dumping the bodies of the horses in the Machickanee Forest. These will be prosecutions for the alleged violation of sec. 95.50(1) Wis. Stats. These will be forfeiture actions, not criminal actions, and the penalty is a fine of not more than $1,000. There could be court costs assessed, as well.
I am not bringing criminal charges against anyone, at this time, for causing the deaths of these horses. This decision is based on the information I have to date. The reason is that the cause of death of these horses can’t be proven in a court of law. The Sheriff’s Department was advised by a veterinarian that the horses should not be necropsied because of their condition. The investigation indicates they had been dead for weeks prior to the time they were discovered on March 22, 2009. Sheriff Jansen and I met personally with a veterinarian to discuss the investigation of the deaths of these horses. This veterinarian has indicated that, in general, when a veterinarian is called to determine cause of death, the best time to take samples is within the first hours of death. After that, the body starts decomposing. The veterinarian further indicated that even when tested in this narrow window, a specific cause of death is not always established.
It is important to remember that the complaint the Sheriff’s Department was investigating was the dumping of these horses in a public place, not an animal abuse complaint. The inquiry broadened, however, when members of the public were, understandably, concerned about the condition of these horses, and questioned whether they were starved or mistreated. The veterinarian I talked to, in viewing pictures of the horses, felt the horses were thin. The Sheriff’s Department did speak to an owner of the horses who indicated they died of disease. I do not have sufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing, at this time, to bring criminal charges against anyone for mistreating these horses. I am authorized to state that Sheriff Mike Jansen concurs in the opinions expressed in this letter.
Jay N. Conley
Oconto County District Attorney
Thank you for everything you do for animals!
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