SAGINAW, MI — Last spring, authorities removed 41 malnourished animals from a farm in rural Saginaw County. Cows with their ribs jutting from their skins, their spins protruding. A horse with a mass on its neck. Another with an eye affliction.
Nearly a year later, three people are facing felony charges of animal cruelty.
Saginaw County Animal Care and Control Center Director Bonnie Kanicki said the case began on April 5, when her officers assisted the Michigan State Police with a call of three horses running loose from their paddock on a farm on Sheridan Road in Spaulding Township. The horses had gone onto neighboring yards and damaged the property, Kanicki said.
Animal Control officers and troopers managed to get the horses secured back on their owners’ property. They noticed the paddock’s fences were broken and the horses had insufficient water, Kanicki said.
The horses’ owners were not home at the time, Kanicki said.
Animal Control officers returned to the farm for another matter on May 20. On that day, a person riding a three-wheeler near the back of the property smelled an offensive odor, emanating from a deceased black-and-white dairy calf, Kanicki said .
A Saginaw County Sheriff’s deputy and Animal Control officers came to the property, finding an extensive amount of animals in obvious need of veterinary care, Kanicki said.
“They were so skinny,” she said. “There were calves with visible ribs, their spines protruding, their hips protruding. One horse had a large mass on its neck. Another one had something wrong with his eye.”
A 100-gallon stock tank in the animals’ pen had insufficient water, she added.
Owners Lynn M. Leiner and Daniel R. Rogers II were home at the time. Some of the horses and cows were boarded on the property but owned by Kimberlynn Delong, Kanicki said.
“They have all been immensely uncooperative,” Kanicki said. “They had no excuse for these skinny animals. The body conditions of the animals were showing they were negligent in providing them proper food and water.”
The next day, May 21, authorities seized 41 animals from the property — six horses, including a miniature, one adult dairy cow, four calves, seven goats, one pig, two adult dogs, eight puppies, three lambs, one cat, and eight chickens and ducks. The animals were taken to five rescue organizations throughout Michigan and one in Indiana.
Authorities issued warrants for Leiner, Rogers, and Delong on Feb. 11. All three defendants were arraigned on criminal charges in Saginaw County District Court on various dates in mid-March.
Leiner, 37, and Rogers, 38, each face one count of abandonment of or cruelty to 25 or more animals, a seven-year felony. Delong is charged with one count of cruelty to four to 10 animals, a two-year felony. Leiner is free on a $2,500 personal recognition bond, Rogers is free on a $10,000 personal recognition bond, and Delong is free on a $7,500 personal recognition bond.
Currently, two horses and two cows remain in rescues. Animal Control still has three of the dogs and the one cat, Kanicki said.
“They’re all in better places now and they’re continuing to be well-cared for,” Kanicki said. “We intend to seek restitution for the care of these animals.
“This is one of the shocking ones that we see,” she continued. “Those animals deserve this justice.”
Leiner is due in court on March 31. Rogers’ and Delong’s next court dates are pending.
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