Homes still needed for horses taken after cruelty charges
Saturday, April 05, 2014 4:58 AM
Several horses seized from a Dupont man accused of animal cruelty continue to live under foster care while Jefferson County officials search for permanent homes.
The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners announced Friday that 35 of the more than 80 horses seized in January have found new homes.
In March, Superior Court Judge Alison Frazier ruled that the county could seek adoption homes for 51 horses evaluated by a state veterinarian. The veterinarian report found many of the evaluated animals showed serious health and weight issues.
The veterinarian recommended the animals not be put back into the care of Jeff Hayes, who faces a charge of animal cruelty and improperly disposing of dead animals.
Two of the 51 horses have died, leaving 14 horses still available for adoption. Anyone interested in adopting can contact Deputy Yancy Denning at the sheriff's office at (812) 265-2648. There also is a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pages/Jefferson-County-Horse-Rescue-Indiana, which features the animals up for adoption.
Meanwhile, there were about 25 horses not included in the report ruled on by Frazier. The fate of those animals has not been determined by the court, and they remain in foster care.
Because of the large of number of horses still in foster care, the county is in need of more donations for care costs.
Sheriff John Wallace told the commissioners Friday the horse donation fund - which had $5,000 - is at a zero balance. He said the county is in "urgent need" of finding funding sources to cover the animal's care costs.
The commissioners unanimously voted to donate $5,000 to the horse fund established at River Valley Financial Bank from the jail commissary fund. The County Council will have the final say on the funding approval.
The county has been paying off a portion of the care, maintenance and veterinarian costs for the animals with the donation fund. No bills or invoices have been paid by the county to those fostering the animals.
Several residents fostering the animals have said they will cover all costs, but others have spent hundreds of dollars and expect to be reimbursed, Wallace said.
"They're not beating our door down wanting their money back by any stretch of the imagination, but we feel it's only right to reimburse these people eventually," he said.
Since the judge allowed the county to find permanent homes for the horses in question, Hayes has requested the court lower the bond amount of $60,000 for the animal care costs. Frazier denied the request.
In addition, Hayes has asked the court for permission to review the horses himself and claimed some of horses seized by the county were not owned by him. According to court records, he also requested that the court release the names and addresses of those people fostering the seized animals.
In response, the county has filed a protective order against Hayes and requested a hearing date. No hearing date has been set.
Also at the meeting:
The commissioners heard bids for a renovation project at the Courthouse annex building that will reconfigure county offices. The work will relocate walls and some waterlines inside the building and create a new bathroom to house community corrections.
The county received two bids. Gary Whiddon Construction submitted a base bid of $25,147 and an alternative bid of $11,400, while Poole Group submitted a base bid of $23,500 and an alternative of $14,000. The bids were taken under advisement.
The commissioners entered into a three-year deal with Maximus, a company that assists in expense reimbursement for child support orders. The contract is $4,900 each year.