Kane County judge to rule on animal care costs in neglect case

Updated 3/27/2014 10:55 AM

A Kane County judge will rule today on how much security, if any, should be posted by an Elgin woman for the care of her animals while she awaits trial on charges of animal cruelty and neglect.

Assistant State's Attorney Danielle Curtiss Wednesday asked for $42,948, the projected cost to care for horses and donkeys seized by Kane County Animal Control from Stacy Fiebelkorn, for the time from their seizures March 4-5 until April 3. State law limits the county to a 30-day time frame to start.

Fiebelkorn's attorney, Jamie Wombacher, says it should only be $9,000.

Wombacher argued Fiebelkorn should only be charged from March 21 on, because the law only mentions expenses expected to be incurred.

If that is the case, Curtiss said, the state should get $18,610.

If Fiebelkorn is found not guilty, the entire security would be returned to her.

The new motion for security was filed March 21, after Associate Judge Elizabeth Flood ordered Fiebelkorn to give up a llama and alpaca but said she could retain ownership of the horses, donkeys and two goats for now.

More than 90 animals were seized from the Hampshire farm she rented after animal control workers found dead horses, poultry and goats on that property and one in Maple Park.

Wombacher also argued that the county has spent money unnecessarily by buying small bales of hay and straw and bags of shavings, when it could pay less per pound by buying larger bales and bags.

Just because animal control doesn't have the equipment or workers strong enough to handle larger bales doesn't mean her client should have to pay for their convenience, Wombacher said.

She also disputed a charge from one of the farms where the horses are being kept, for repairs to a gravel driveway and reseeding of a pasture horses have damaged. The driveway was damaged by heavy use the day the horses, llamas, alpacas and goats were delivered.

Wombacher also said Fiebelkorn shouldn't have to pay for several shelters the county bought or built for the animals, as Robert Sauceda, the county's animal control director, testified the county likely would keep them in storage after the animals have departed and lend them to animal-rescue operations.

Wombacher also questioned whether Sauceda had shopped around for, or knew anything about, the costs of board and care for horses, especially since it is animal control workers who are cleaning the stalls and feeding and watering the horses, donkeys and two of the goats -- not stable employees.

The county is not seeking money for the care provided to rabbits, the rest of the goats and the poultry that Fiebelkorn relinquished March 19.

Receipts from stores and invoices from veterinarians detailed the charges, including $1,400 spent to have a farrier trim the animals' hoofs. Sauceda testified that one of the horse veterinarians and the farrier are discounting their services. It has also gotten an $1,200 emergency animal control discount on the purchase of two of the shelters.

Medical notes on one invoice showed that the overgrown hoofs led many to develop thrush in their feet, and that one horse's forelock was so long and full of manure and burrs that the animal could not see.

Euthanizing a yearling that was too weak to stand or eat cost $275. Veterinarians have visited every day, and Animal Control workers visit twice a day.

Animal Control has a $933,000 budget for expenditures this year, including $12,500 for animal-care supplies.

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