Case Snapshot
Case ID: 15523
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: horse
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Thursday, May 28, 2009

County: Bonner

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Mary Jean Hendrickson

Bonner County Sheriff's officials seized nine severely malnourished horses earlier from property in the Rapid Lightning drainage earlier this week.

All of the animals were infested with lice and intestinal worms, in addition to having elongated hooves, sheriff's officials said. The animals were quarantined following an investigation by a detective and an Idaho State Department of Agriculture inspector.

The animals were seized from property off High Road on Monday.

Sheriff's officials identified Mary Jean Hendrickson as the owner of some of the animals. Hendrickson was boarding the other animals on behalf of their owners.

"They all were in states of neglect," said sheriff's Lt. Bill McAuliffe.

Hendrickson, 32, is charged with six counts of animal cruelty, according to McAuliffe.

It's the second time horses have been seized from Hendrickson, documents in the magistrate division of 1st District Court indicate.

Three horses were seized from Hendrickson's care after fourth horse was found dead along Rapid Lightning Road in the winter of 2007. The stallion died of unspecified causes and had fallen out of the truck that was transporting it, according to court records.

Deputies who responded to the dead stallion call discovered three emaciated mares which might have been pregnant and had never received veterinary care, sheriffs reports in the case said. All three horses needed dental work, had rough coats and needed their feet worked on.

Hendrickson was charged with animal cruelty, although the state later moved to dismiss the case for lack of evidence, court records show.

All told, the sheriff's office currently possesses 14 horses and one llama as a result of pending animal neglect and cruelty cases. Under such circumstances, the county becomes responsible for the animals' interim care but lacks the facilities to board the animals, so they're being boarded privately.

The sheriff's office has traditionally budgeted about $1,000 a year for animal control and routinely spends 15 to 20 times that amount in boarding and veterinary costs, McAuliffe said. So far this fiscal year, the sheriff's has spent about $29,000.

The outlay has depleted other portions of the sheriff's budget.

To address the issue, the county has formed an advisory board composed of local veterinarians and citizens to find ways to better utilize tax dollars. One idea under consideration is to use the former Panhandle Animal Shelter for boarding and supplying inmate laborers to look after the animals, McAuliffe said.

Given the state of the economy, coupled with the rising cost of fertilizer and feed, McAuliffe said horse neglect is expected to persist in Bonner County. Those concerned about their ability to care for their horses are urged to seek help through animal rescues, the local extension office, ISDA or the sheriff's office so see if help is available.

"It's certainly better for them to reach out and ask for help," he said.


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