Parying a price

The cost of protecting the welfare of rescued animals is continuing to rise in Marion County.

About 144 dogs, 71 horses and 13 head of cattle were removed from the Marion farm of Karole Lindgren and her family March 12 by the Kansas Animal Health Department with the help of law-enforcement officers from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol.

In November, Lindgren was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and sentenced Dec. 4 by Judge Michael Powers of the Eighth Judicial District Court in Marion.

Since the seizure of the animals in March, the state has spent $45,000 to board 26 dogs at $260 a day, which equates to $10 a day per animal for veterinary and boarding costs.

The horses and cows are being boarded in Marion County; the largest population, though, is at the correctional facility in Hutchinson, said Lee Becker, Marion county sheriff.

“The animals that needed special care were taken care of by local residents,” he said.

Becker said he was originally told the average cost to stable a horse was from $5 to $5.50 a day.

The initial figure to board 60 of the horses at the correctional facility was set at $2 a day per animal, he said. But after a couple of weeks, facility officials said an increase was needed.

The original cost estimate came from the Bureau of Land Management, Becker said, and was based on the amount required to feed mustangs. Because the Lindgren horses were standing around 24 hours a day, they were eating double what the other horses ate. As a result, the charge was raised to $3.75 a day per animal.

“That includes vet care like medicine, vet bills, feed, some hoof trimming, being wormed and that sort of thing,” Becker said. “I didn’t want them to have air-conditioned stalls, but I wanted them to have adequate care. We don’t need to be extravagant, but they need humane care.”

From March 12 to Nov. 30, the total cost of caring for the animals at the correctional facility and with private individuals was $80,768.10, according to Ruth Lange, deputy clerk of the Marion County Clerk’s Office.

This means the county has boarded 71 horses and 13 cows at a total cost of $306 a day, or $3.65 a day per animal for veterinary and boarding costs.

Where is the money to board and care for these animals coming from?

“The taxpayers,” Becker said. “It’s apparently costing more to house the dogs than it does the horses. But if you pay taxes to the state of Kansas, you’re paying for the dogs, too.”

The county appraiser’s office indicated Marion County has a little more than 11,800 taxable parcels of land. That means the animal care is cost each taxpayer about $7.

“This is not to say that each taxpayer paid $7, as some own more than one parcel, and the proportion of tax dollars paid is based on the value and type of property owned, such as residential, commercial and agricultural,” said Dianna Carter, county appraiser.

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