An Elgin woman who owns a petting zoo has been charged with cruelty to animals and failure to provide adequate food, shelter and care after Kane County authorities discovered 10 dead animals, including horses and a donkey, on two properties.
Stacy Fiebelkorn, 34, of the 1000 block of Borden Drive, was arrested Tuesday and is free after posting bail.
Fiebelkorn and Sandra Fiebelkorn are listed as the owners of the Mini Crew Zoo petting zoo with a post office box address in Hampshire, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Eight of the dead animals were found on a farm on the 44W200 block of Route 20 in Hampshire.
Stacy Fiebelkorn's name is on a Facebook page for the business.
Kane County Animal Control received a tip Feb. 24 about a dead horse on a farm in Maple Park, animal control director Robert Sauceda said. Workers found the horse, and a dead horse fetus, outside.
The workers discovered the animals' owner was keeping other animals at a farm in Hampshire. A county veterinarian found ill animals on the property. It was then that Sauceda pushed for impoundment and for a criminal case to be brought, he said. A search warrant was granted March 3.
Officials from the Kane County sheriff's office and animal control Monday found a dead donkey, a dead goat, two dead miniature horses and four dead chickens in a barn and outside.
Other animals -- including chickens, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, goats, horses, miniature horses, alpacas and llamas -- did not have adequate food and water. Sheriff's Lt. Patrick Gengler said water containers were frozen solid, and horses were eating severely molded hay that was sitting on horse feces. There were about 94 animals on the Route 20 farm, according to Gengler.
"I broke down Monday night when I got home" after seeing the condition of the animals, Sauceda said. He said his workers told him they don't recall seeing "this number looking this bad" on any case before.
Sauceda said the animals were "very" dehydrated. The animals are being quarantined until tests results are back showing they have no communicable diseases.
The county has brought in fresh hay, food and heaters for the water containers. The county veterinarian has inspected the animals, as have two veterinarians who specialize in horse care, Sauceda said.
Sauceda said Fiebelkorn was given a chance to fix the situation before charges were brought and did not do so.
"I think it is a lack of funds. She can't afford all these animals," he said.
The state veterinarian has impounded the animals, Sauceda said. Fiebelkorn has a week to fight the order. Otherwise, the animals can be distributed to other caretakers, including animal rescue organizations.
When reached Wednesday afternoon, Stacy Fiebelkorn said she was heading into a meeting and not available for comment.
A check of Kane County court records show she was issued ordinance violation tickets in July 2008 charging her with failure to comply with the county's rabies control ordinance and failure to adequately care for animals.
Those charges were stricken, with leave to reinstate, according to the circuit court clerk's records.
She is also listed as a defendant on evictions from farms on Beith Road in Maple Park in 2014, another farm on McGough Road near Hampshire in 2012, and an unspecified farm in 2011, according to Kane County court records.
The Hampshire business offers petting zoos and pony rides. In its "about us" section, it says the family moved to "the farm" in 2007 and started out with "a few horses and a couple of goats."
According to a check of the zoo's license on the USDA website, the zoo had several "indirect violations" in 2013 and 2012. Officials were not available to explain the violations.
According to Gengler, Stacy Fiebelkorn does not own the Route 20 farm, and the owner was not aware of the condition of the animals. Gengler said it is possible, given the size of the property and the advanced age of the owner, that the owner would not have seen the animals' conditions.
Stacy Fiebelkorn tried to raise money for the animals through an online site, gofundme.com/66cwow. The appeal, for $2,000, started Jan. 10 and has raised $25.
Sauceda was at the farm Wednesday as another load of hay was being delivered and county workers were cleaning stalls. Veterinarians have been visiting every day, he said.
"The animals are starting to bounce back today," he said. The goats are nuzzling workers "and running around again. It's been awesome today."