CRAWFORD COUNTY - According to Kathy Jensen of Center Point, Iowa, she and a group of concerned citizens have rescued horses from a rural Crawford County property.
Jensen was cited in a WKOW news report saying that horses have been found dead, dying and “in very bad shape.” Apparently none of the horses have received veterinary care, and the stallions have not been gelded. The herd is apparently “breeding at will.”
Jensen reported that the dead animals had apparently died “sometime in the last three months,” and foals are being eaten by the pack of dogs also owned by the property owner.
The rescuers have taken as many horses from the property as the owner would allow.
"I cried basically the whole way home, basically I didn't know what else there was we could do," Jensen says.
Jensen is currently taking care of three of the rescued horses at a home in Center Point. She says there are other Iowans and other people in Wisconsin also looking after other horses from the property.
Jensen says right now the group is trying to raise money, and planning to hopefully go back to the Wisconsin property to rescue more.
The Crawford County Sheriff's Department in Wisconsin says they are looking into this, and this is an ongoing investigation. Jensen says she will continue to push for answers.
Neighbors Susan Poehmeller and Bonnie Wideman have been aware of the situation at Judy Surface’s property for years, and have made attempts to enlist local officials in remedying the situation.
“For years now, we’ve been complaining about those horses,” Poehmeller stated. “They were constantly getting loose and would wind up out on County Highway J.”
Poehmeller observed that if the animals had been cattle, the farmer would have been fined and the situation remedied long since.
“The dogs that are preying upon the newborn foals up there are the same pack of dogs that my neighbor Bonnie Wideman says are preying upon her lambs,” Poehmeller said.
County animal control
Crawford County Animal Control Officer Crisse Reynolds confirmed her office has been involved with fielding complaints and investigating the situation since September 2017.
“In mid-September 2017, I referred a healthy herd of unhandled horses to a local 501c3 equine rescue at the request of the owner for assistance in reducing the number in the herd with the purpose of improving the overall health of the herd for the coming winter months,” Reynolds reported.
By mid-December 2017, Reynolds said it was reported by that organization that the herd was “all being fed and watered and all appear healthy at this time” and “all horses look healthy.”
Then near the end of January 2018, that same organization made Animal Control aware of animals in critical need. An abatement order was immediately issued to the owner requiring veterinary intervention, complete compliance with veterinarian's medical orders, a laboratory analysis of hay quality, and cooperation with that rescue organization.
Reynolds reports that the property owner has complied, and is continuing to work with the equine veterinarian and volunteers to improve the health of the herd and re-home the herd.
Then on February 2, 2018, the abatement order was revised to direct the property owner to fully cooperate with her assistant and other equine rescue organizations that have been offering their assistance.
Reynolds stated that as this is an investigation in progress, she cannot comment further. Reynolds did not release the name of the horse owner, which was obtained through other sources.
“After being in contact with the District Attorney's Office for several weeks, on March 16, 2018, the District Attorney notified me he would not be seeking criminal charges against this subject,” Reynolds said. “He referred me to Corporation Counsel to seek remedies under Chapter 173 of Wisconsin State Statute.”
Reynolds stated that after meeting with Corporation Counsel on Monday, March 19, she is “confident we will be able to quickly secure the appropriate court orders to resolve the situation.”