By Kevin Caufield and Craig Sterrett
A group of beagles and horses formerly belonging to an Arlington man will remain the property of Bureau County Animal Control.
Illinois Department of Agriculture denied a petition filed by Daniel Labounty of Arlington to retrieve his beagles and horses that had been seized by Bureau County Animal Control on Feb. 20. The ruling also stated that given the dogs may not make good hunting dogs nor pets, and that they be placed “with beagle field trainers of some merit.”
Bureau County assistant state’s attorney Anthony Sciuto had not read the ruling before press time today and chose not to comment this morning. He said he would go on-the-record later after having an opportunity to review the department’s ruling.
According to the ruling, animal welfare investigator for IDOA Ron Settles testified that when he visited Labounty’s property on Feb. 19 the dog cages were in a dilapidated condition dangerous to the dogs, flesh on the dogs were a 5 on a scale of 1-9, flesh on the horses were a 4 on a scale of 1-9, one horse had an eye infection weeping pus, there was a tumor on one dog, red-eye (aka cherry eye) on at least two dogs and that he only saw one bowl of dog feed and no dog water.
Dr. Mark Ernst, DVM with IDOA then testified that in his opinion the lack of food, water, proper shelter and veterinary care constituted a violation of the Humane Care for Animals Act and the dogs needed veterinary care.
Labounty was given a notice of violation of owner’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.
The notice of violation of owner’s duties was filed after Labounty suffered a second stroke and then admitted to a hospital and nursing home. However, Labounty had checked himself out of the nursing home, returned home, and filed an appeal to retrieve his animals.
Illinois Valley Animal Rescue director Chris Ellberg said she received word on the ruling late Monday afternoon.
Ellberg said her main concern is for the animals. She said she will likely write a letter to offer IVAR’s services in the Bureau County case, and she said she’s sure Midwest Beagle Rescue, Education and Shelter will become the new home of the dogs.
“I was elated. I got goose bumps. It’s been going on for so many years, and now all these animals will be safe,” Ellberg said. “I’ll offer our services but I’m sure Beagle Rescue will probably be contacted.”
Kevin Caufield can be reached at (815) 220-6932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.