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Petting zoo owner forfeiture hearing continued

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2014 11:48 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 14, 2014 12:52 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – A petting zoo owner charged with animal cruelty won a small reprieve Thursday, when a judge continued a forfeiture hearing on 93 surviving animals impounded by the county.

Jamie Wombacher, the attorney for Elgin resident Stacy Fiebelkorn, 34, asked Associate Kane County Judge Elizabeth Flood for the continuance so she would have time to read recent court filings by the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Assistant State’s Attorney Danielle Curtiss asked Flood to require Fiebelkorn to post $36,786 as security to pay for the day-to-day care of the 93 animals impounded by animal control, if the continuance was for 30 days.

Flood set the continued forfeiture hearing for 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Kane County Branch Court, and waived the legal requirement for Fiebelkorn to post security to pay for the animals’ continuing care during the five days of the continuance. 

Fiebelkorn is to appear in court at 9 a.m. Tuesday on the charges of animal cruelty and a violation of an animal owner’s duty to provide food and care, both misdemeanors. Both proceedings are in Kane County Branch Court in St. Charles.

Neither Fiebelkorn nor her attorney would comment.

In total, 11 animals and a horse fetus were found dead, and 94 in need of food and water, officials said.

The horse and fetus were found on a farm near Maple Park, the rest at the Hampshire Township location, officials said.

According to court records, Fiebelkorn “admitted to having too many animals housed at the property [on] Route 20.”

As to the cost of caring for the surviving animals at two undisclosed locations, Animal Control Administrator Rob Sauceda said he did not have a total accounting yet of cost to his department.

But he said most of it was for veterinary care and for building shelters and fences for the animals at their new locations.

Sauceda credited the huge outpouring of public support to provide food and other supplies to the rescued animals with keeping costs to his department down.

Sauceda said one of the mini-horses, Hercules, was euthanized because it had an untreated dental occlusion where its teeth were growing up into its sinus cavities causing an infection.

He said the horse fell down in front of animal care workers and began hemorrhaging.

“The vet said he had to put it down,” Sauceda said. “The horse was in too much pain.”

The euthanized horse brought the surviving number of animals – including rabbits, donkeys, llamas, goats and chickens – to 93. There were two other surviving rabbits that Fiebelkorn agreed to surrender Feb. 28, Sauceda said.

The rabbits were given to new homes.

A preliminary necropsy of a mini-horse found dead at the Hampshire Township site showed it had died of starvation, Sauceda said.

The horse was 31/2 to 41/2 years old with zero body fat content with overgrown, untrimmed hooves, he said.

According to Sauceda’s sworn statement filed in court papers, when Animal Control served a search warrant March 3, “We were unable to remove the dead horse from the site – it was frozen in 4 inches of water, urine and feces.”

Sauceda’s sworn statement also details actions animal control has taken with regard to Fiebelkorn and her traveling petting zoo dating back to July 2, 2008, when one burro, one pig, 10 goats and two calves were abandoned.

In another citation on July 8, animals were found with dirty water and no food.

On April 20, 2011, a sheep was found dead from lice, with a necropsy indicating owner neglect as the cause, according to the affidavit.

In the current situation, Sauceda cited an animal control warden’s assessment of Fiebelkorn’s Mini Zoo Crew: “The horses, goats, poultry, alpacas and llamas and rabbits are all malnourished and dehydrated. Some needed immediate vet care and were close to death while we were on the property.”

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