County officials leery about rising expense of animal intervention

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BRENDA CONYERS
Marion County commissioners and sheriff’s department share concern about the rising costs to taxpayers for the care of animals seized last spring from property west of Marion.


Dogs, cattle and horses, taken March 12 after a search warrant was acquired by the Kansas Animal Health Department, were reportedly found to be in conditions that have led to charges of cruelty to animals for several members of the family.


At the Aug. 1 weekly commission meeting, County Clerk Carol Maggard reported the total cost of food and care for the animals through July is $42,564.33.


“We’re beginning to look at $100,000,” chairman Leroy Wetta said.


Sheriff Lee Becker told commissioners he had asked the county attorney to readdress the matter of the bond issue because the original bond set no longer covers the animal care expenses.


“We are at the point the cost of care has exceeded the value of the animals,” Becker told commissioners.


“I would think if you haven’t been burdened with the cost of the care of the animals, you should be able to use that money as additional bond money,” Becker said.


Becker also told commissioners because a legal stay had been placed on the dogs, currently in the care of the Kansas Humane Society, the state is now responsible for the cost of the dog care.


“And it all comes back to the taxpayers one way or another,” he said.


In a July 25 hearing, attorneys representing the Lindgren family asked Judge Michael Powers for a “bill of particulars” from the county attorney in which each cruelty to animal charge be matched with the animal and the location where the animal was found.


County Attorney Susan Robson cited several cases where such a request was denied because of circumstances and numbers of animals.


“How should I identify the dogs?” Robson asked Powers. “Do I say ‘the one with three brown spots, or two spots?'”


Robson said such a request was an unreasonable burden of proof because she had already provided evidence through videotapes and witnesses.


“This is another way to bog the system down,” she said.


Despite her protests, Powers ruled the defendants have a right to know which animals have reportedly been mistreated.


In another motion presented to the judge, Robson had requested a consolidation of the case for trial.


She said the family lived together, went to attorneys appointments together, and to consolidate the trial would save time and money.


Attorneys representing the Lindgrens: John Johnson, Dan Baldwin, and Brent Boyer opposed the motion.


Powers, after discussion with the attorneys, approved consolidation of charges on three family members, Kena, Ryan and Ray Lindgren for a trial date set in November. Trial date for Karole Lindgren was set for Oct. 16 and 17.

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