State, county officials rescue endangered animals

County and state law enforcement officers and animal-health specialists joined forces Monday evening to rescue more than 230 mistreated animals at a farmyard two and a half miles west of Marion on 190th Street.

About 144 Australian Shepherd dogs, 80 head of horses and 10 head of cattle were rescued, according to officials on the scene.

Marion County Sheriff Lee Becker said five arrests were made. Four of the individuals were charged with 15 counts of cruelty to animals and are being held on $15,000 bond.

Additional charges may be filed.

One individual, who came onto the scene as the search warrant was being served, was charged with obstruction of legal process.

The five family members charged are Kena Lindgren, Karole Lindgren, Ryan Lindgren, Ray Lindgren and Rockford Lindgren.

Becker said the Lindgren family had been involved in a similar situation with horses in Chase County some time ago.

Participating in the rescue, which began about 5 p.m. and lasted until after midnight, were Marion County Sheriff’s officers, members of the Kansas Animal Health Department, members of the Kansas Livestock Commission, and several veterinarians, including Jessica Laurin of Animal Health Center of Marion County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol’s Special Response Team was also called to the scene in case of difficulties.

According to Debbie Duncan, director of kennel inspections for the KAHD, state officials had tried several times to conduct a kennel inspection on the property. But owners of the animals refused to allow officials to view the facilities.

Duncan said her office had reason to believe the Lindgrens were out of compliance with state by not having proper kennel licensure.

On Monday morning, Duncan said she acquired an administrative warrant that would allow her to inspect the kennels without the owners’ permission.

“We just expected to look the kennels over,” Duncan said.

Because of the conditions she discovered there, Duncan said she returned and acquired a seizure warrant for the dogs through the district court.

Duncan and her eight-member team came from across the state to help with Monday night’s seizure.

“With tonight, we will have taken about 800 dogs in Kansas since last July,” Duncan said.

The animals will be taken into protective custody and cared for at different places around the state, Duncan said. Sick and injured animals will be treated with medical care.

Duncan said the animals could not become property of the state until a judge determines their future.

Eye-witness account

While waiting for some team members arrive from greater distances, those on the scene prepared for the seizure by dressing warmly and wearing a plastic overall over the outside of their clothes. They also wore latex gloves and plastic shoe coverings.

A large enclosed trailer from KAHD pulled up. It was filled with dog crates of all sizes, each with fresh bedding lining the bottom.

As workers were setting up tables, first-aid equipment, and refreshments for workers, a single howl was heard, soon joined by the voices of about 100 dogs.

“It’s a pack identification call,” said one KAHD official. “They all call together before going to bed or before getting up in the morning and at other special times during the day. Wolves and coyotes do it, too.”

Several dogs were kept in floorless runs behind the home. Two of the pens held several dogs, with only one medium dog crate inside each pen for the dogs’ protection.

The dogs watched anxiously as workers approached and called to the dogs to them in light, happy voices. Some of the dogs wagged their tails, but retreated from the strangers.

Some dogs were shivering and covered with the wet mud, other dogs were in outbuildings, with the odor of poor cleanliness coming through the wired doorway.

One worker reported finding a dead puppy, about five months old, being chewed on inside by the adult dogs.

Several pens around the yard held horses. In one pen, a horse was dead.

A large storage building apparently held a majority of the dogs, but with some dogs running loose inside, KAHD officials did not permit anyone to enter the building.

As officials opened the door to get inside, the stench of ammonia was strong. One worker became ill inside the building and had to leave the area.

At least one dog brought out appeared to be severely malnourished, with hip bones and ribs protruding. The dog had a bleeding, pussy wound.

According to officials, the Lindgrens had several show dogs inside of the house. Duncan said it took her team seven minutes to count the older puppies that were living inside the structure.

Officials were planning to remove 27 to 37 dogs from the home.

While KAHD cared for the dogs, several local citizens helped sheriff’s deputies bring in horses and cattle, which were also malnourished and weak.

Sheriff Becker said Monday night the events of the day held “a lot of potential for danger, but there was a good spirit of cooperation, and there were no injuries.”

He credited the professionalism of the officers of the various agencies for the success of the rescue.

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