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PRINCETON — Beagles seized from a rural Arlington farm are in good health and always have been, according to Bureau County officials.
Bureau County assistant state’s attorney Anthony Sciuto is overseeing an animal ownership case against rural Arlington resident Dan Labounty, 67. Scuito spoke to the NewsTribune on Tuesday about the ongoing case.
On Feb. 20, Labounty was given a notice of violation of homeowner’s duties, a Class B misdemeanor, and his horses and beagles were seized because he could no longer provide for their feeding, watering, sheltering and medical care. Animal control took possession of 13 beagles and seven horses. About seven beagles are presumed to be missing.
“Labounty should not be portrayed as a hoarder or animal abuser,” Sciuto said. “He had made arrangements for people to feed them until the food ran out.”
After the food ran out, Bureau County Animal Control officer Scott Robbins had begun feeding and watering the animals while Labounty was hospitalized at St. Francis Medical Center after suffering his second stroke.
The charge was filed after Labounty was admitted to an undisclosed nursing home in Peru.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that Mr. Labounty couldn’t care for his animals,” Sciuto said. “We filed the notice so that (Robbins) could take possession of the animals until their owner can come into compliance.”
That compliance date is set for midnight this Thursday, or one week after the notice was served. Labounty, or an attorney on his behalf, has until then to file an appeal with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
If no appeal is filed, the agriculture department will file a deposition on the animals. The dogs will then be forfeited to Bureau County Animal Control and the horses to the agriculture department. Sciuto said the deposition most likely will not happen this week.
“Afterwards, we’re not sure what will happen to the dogs,” Sciuto said. “We could ship them to a beagle rescue, sell them and use the money to defray department costs, or adopt them out. Euthanasia is not even a consideration because none of the animals are in a condition that would warrant that.”
Upon seizure last week the animals were examined by a veterinarian from Bureau Valley Veterinary Hospital. All of the dogs and horses were deemed to be in relatively good health. Two dogs had a condition called “cherry eye” — a genetic defect in an eyelid — one had abnormally long nails, and a very old dog had a tumor.
Sciuto said Labounty is a third-generation beagle breeder who has been in contact with animal control officer Robbins for the past few years concerning his dogs because his health problems had made caring for them difficult.
“Mr. Labounty is reclusive, but he’s had a good relationship with us,” Sciuto said. “These are very valuable dogs and Mr. Labounty cared for them. He raised them as working dogs, field dogs, and they have always meant a lot to Mr. Labounty.”