Kane County Animal Control workers are determined to make sure the animals involved in last month's animal neglect case won't end up in the same situation when they are sent to new homes.
Their efforts include checking the names of adoption applicants in several ways, including looking for ties via social media, to find out if they are friends or relatives of Stacy Fiebelkorn, the defendant in the case.
As of Friday, adoptions were finalized for all but seven of the 90-plus animals that Fiebelkorn forfeited or had removed by a judge, Animal Control Director Robert Sauceda said. Fiebelkorn still owns two goats, but they are in Animal Control's custody.
Many of the adopters are the people who volunteered with the March 11 move of the animals off the Hampshire farm where they were found. Some of the donkeys and goats are staying with a Maple Park resident who has hosted them since they were seized last month. Horses and ponies are going to rescue groups and individuals. Rabbits have ended up with a Chicago animal shelter and individuals. Exotic animal veterinarian Susan Brown of Batavia, who volunteered her services to evaluate and look after the animals, has adopted the alpacas and five ducks.
Animal Control wardens and Brown have checked references and visited sites where the horses, donkeys, llamas and alpacas will be kept before approving adoptions. The horse owners also have to agree to have a farrier visit the animals soon after they get them, get the horses immunized, and provide proof to Animal Control that both have been done. A veterinarian is providing the immunizations for free and has herself adopted one of the goats.
Under state law, Animal Control could have sold the animals. But instead, it has kept the adoption costs low, from $4 per chicken to $25 per horse and donkey. The $25 covers the cost of a required blood test for equine infectious anemia disease, which has to be done before a horse's ownership is transferred, Sauceda said.
"I'd rather have the money (from adopters) going in to the animals," Sauceda said.
Friends can't adopt
Sauceda has rejected applications from two women who shared a barn with Fiebelkorn in Hampshire, where the animals were seized. One of those women, Michele Hamiel, is listed as a co-defendant with Fiebelkorn on civil lawsuits on unrelated contracts in Kane and McHenry counties.
Hamiel said Friday the 2013 McHenry lawsuit was "news to her," and that she had not been told her adoption application was denied. She declined to comment about her dealings with Fiebelkorn. Posts on her Facebook page from March say, "Just keep dragging people back in to your problems, Stacy," and "U knew they were watching u and u still didn't care for the animals the right way."
Animal Control is also investigating whether the man who posted bail for Fiebelkorn after her arrest has begun housing horses at the Hampshire farm.
On the bail form, the man identified himself as Mark Schuring of Harvard and is listed as Fiebelkorn's boyfriend. Schuring runs Healing Hearts With Hooves and Hounds, a Harvard nonprofit group that uses horses and dogs to help victims of domestic violence recover and to campaign against domestic violence and bullying. Schuring also arranged for a veterinarian to look at Fiebelkorn's animals in late February when Animal Control first issued notices of violation to Fiebelkorn.
Sauceda said an Animal Control warden has revisited the Hampshire farm this week, but he had not received a report yet.
Schuring could not be reached for comment.
Fiebelkorn, 34, of Elgin, is due to appear at a hearing at 1 p.m. Monday in Kane County court on motions related to whether she can retain ownership of two goats and whether the news media can photograph court proceedings.
Fiebelkorn is charged with neglect and cruelty. Animal Control found dead horses, donkeys, goats and poultry on two sites she rented. The charges state Fiebelkorn failed to provide adequate food, water, shelter and care for her animals.