The owner of more than 100 severely neglected horses was arrested on Thursday, December 30—a few weeks after the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response (FIR) team arrived in Fulton County, Arkansas, to rescue the starved equines.
Rodney Kankey, 50, was charged with 118 counts of animal cruelty, five of them felonies. The felonies each carry a penalty of up to six years in prison. Kankey, the owner of the Fulton County farm, purchased horses from auctions and then re-sold them to the public. The ASPCA became involved in the case after a seven-month cruelty investigation by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.
"We appreciate the diligence of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office in pursuing this case and bringing appropriate charges against the owner of these horses,” says Kyle Held, Midwest Director of Field Investigations and Response. “Animal cruelty should not be tolerated in any community, and we’re pleased that Kankey was held accountable for blatantly neglecting his animals.”
When the FIR team arrived in Fulton County, they found dead equines and more than 100 horses suffering from obvious signs of neglect that included infections and untreated injuries. The FIR team members, along with ASPCA Volunteer Response Team members, have been working day and night—throughout the holiday season—to bring the horses urgently needed food, shelter and veterinary care, nursing them back to health.
“We want to thank the community for providing supplies to help us care for these horses over the past few weeks and especially during the holidays,” says Held, adding that most of the horses are responding well to veterinary care and are regaining strength every day. “The horses are still under quarantine and are not yet available for adoption, but we’re hoping once they become available, the community will open their arms and offer these beautiful animals permanent homes.”
Law enforcement officers have confirmed what we always knew: 78 percent say they see a clear link between animal abuse and other violent crimes. So would you believe that only 19 percent of law enforcement officers report that they’ve received training in handling crimes against animals, and that while nearly one-third of Americans say they’ve witnessed animal cruelty firsthand, police say they rarely see it? According to new ASPCA research, it’s true.
“These findings validate what we have long assumed—that there is a major need for training for officers charged with enforcing animal cruelty laws and investigating cruelty cases,” says Dr. Randall Lockwood, Senior Vice President of Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects for the ASPCA.
The nationwide research study found that the public and law enforcement both want to end animal abuse, but they lack the know-how to work together to stop it. Case in point: we learned that very few witnesses to animal cruelty call the police, and that while nearly all law enforcement officers feel they should play a role in enforcing animal cruelty law, only 41 percent say they know the relevant laws in their area and just 30 percent say they know the penalties.
By obtaining solid research on the problem, we’re a big step closer to solving it through education. The ASPCA is already on the case, boosting our efforts to end blood sports with a tool kit for law enforcement that will soon be released by the Department of Justice and by appointing Animal Fighting Expert Terry Mills to train and work with law enforcement on that important issue.
In the video below, Dr. Lockwood outlines some of the most important findings of the study and explains how the ASPCA will use them in the battle against animal cruelty.
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Through a series of wacky video escapades, Joey continues to spread his “StopChasingTail” campaign in effort to help end pet overpopulation. Check out Joey’s other web flicks, and be sure to sign up for the all new Super Official HelpJoey.com Newsletter for your chance to win free gear!
According to the Associated Press, approximately 1,200 dogs at a Kansas puppy mill were euthanized because of a distemper outbreak that was discovered when sick puppies from the mill reached pet stores in Wyoming. The ASPCA wasn’t involved in this tragic case, but we think it serves as a powerful reminder that it’s never a good idea to purchase animals from pet stores, which are often supplied by substandard commercial breeders.
Distemper is a complicated disease to manage in any population of animals because it has a long incubation period and long shedding period, and diagnosis can be tricky. It can take months to contain an outbreak, and affected animals may have complications later in life or not survive the disease. Proper vaccination can greatly reduce the risk of distemper.
Wyoming pet stores reported 24 cases of the highly contagious and lethal disease, all in dogs from one puppy mill in Oberlin, Kansas. The mill, Beaver Creek Kennels, was subsequently quarantined twice. Because he couldn’t sell any puppies during the quarantines, Beaver Creek Kennels owner Jeff Fortin ran out of money to care for the dogs. Authorities were unable to find shelters to take the dogs due to the distemper, so the Kansas Animal Health Department made the decision to euthanize all of them. The dogs were buried on farmland in Decatur County, Kansas.
Kansas law requires commercial breeders to provide their dogs with adequate veterinary care, but Fortin has a recorded history of failing to adequately treat animals with health problems—USDA inspectors have cited him for this as well as for failure to keep adequate records and for allowing trash, junk and discarded kennel materials near large dog enclosures. In spite of a host of violations stretching back three years, Fortin was allowed to remain in business and continue supplying puppies to pet stores.
The story doesn’t end here: if Fortin meets certain requirements, Kansas authorities will allow Beaver Creek Kennels to be back in business in six months.
To learn more about how you can help end practices like Fortin’s, please read our list of ways to Help Fight Puppy Mills.
The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response (FIR) Team remains on the ground in Fulton County Arkansas assisting more than 100 neglected horses. Now, we’ve got photos of the FIR team working with the horses. The dedicated group will spend the holidays making sure that the horses receive the food, medical care and attention they need.
Check out the pictures of our tireless FIR team members and the rescued horses below.
Stay tuned to ASPCA.org for continuing coverage of this developing story throughout the holidays.