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Raid leads to animal cruelty citation

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By Dave Taylor

More than 200 animals were confiscated and Worthville resident Donnie Cannon was cited for animal cruelty following a raid in Worthville, Wednesday, Sept.30.

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“It is my understanding that some complaints were made with the Kentucky State Police by people in Worthville who smelled a stench and reported several animals being seen in the Worthville Cemetery,” said Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson.

When Trooper Dave Roberts of the KSP Post 5 in Campbellsburg and Deputy Sheriff J.T. Shaw went down to investigate, “they discovered a pretty bad situation.”

Inside a garage located near the cemetery, the authorities discovered in excess of 120 chickens, nearly 50 ducks, six dogs, 30 rabbits, two turkeys, a quail and a peacock.

“I was called Wednesday night to come look at the dogs,” said Carroll County Animal Support Executive Director Tammie Crawford. “I checked on them and as far as the dogs were concerned (Cannon) was within the law. They had feed, they had water, and they were in a clean pen. That’s all the state of Kentucky requires.”

The chickens were being kept in conditions such that they could barely breathe, Crawford said. A number of the birds were underweight. Many had sinus infections. There were wasps nests in water dishes.

“They found a number of dead animals, and some of them were mixed in with live animals,” Tomlinson said. “Authorities talked to the owner who agreed to sign the animals over to them so that adequate sanctuary could be found for them.”

“Thursday morning I was contacted by the county attorney’s office to go get the animals,” Crawford said. “When the state police and the deputy went there Wednesday they found 27 dead animals. When I went to pick the animals up Thursday we found another four dead.”

    “Donnie Cannon buys and sells chickens and rabbits and other animals at auctions around the area,” said Carroll County Sheriff Ben Smith. “J.T. was there in support of Trooper Roberts. They found some dead animals on the property there. When Donnie buys and trades at these auctions, who is to say the animals might have already been sick when he got them. This whole thing has been blown out of proportion,” Smith said.

“Well, he wasn’t there,” Crawford said in response to Smith’s comment. “It was a mess.”

Cannon was cited for cruelty to animals, second degree, according to Tomlinson.

At press time there was confusion over which enforcement agency held jurisdiction over the case.

“J.T. was there in support of the state police and he did cite Mr. Cannon,” Sheriff Smith said, “but really it wasn’t our deal.”

“We don’t have a case on it,” said Trooper Seth Willis, public information officer for the Kentucky State Police Post 5 at Campbellsburg. “It is our understanding that J.T. Shaw of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department issued the citation. There were several word of mouth complaints about an odor. We had a detective in the area that day and he met with the deputy and they looked into the complaint. My understanding is that the county attorney is still looking into it.”

    Crawford has been working since the raid to find sanctuary for the animals.

    “We had a cattle trailer full – from front to back – and we brought them to my house,” she said. “I still have 16 rabbits, they’re in a stall. We kept seven chickens and I still have the dogs. They were in better health than any of the others. I have gotten the rest of them placed in sanctuaries in Shepherdsville and in Rockcastle County.”

    Crawford said when she first turned the chickens loose at her home “they just stood there. They didn’t know they could move around.”

    The local veterinarian on call was tending a cow at a local farm and was unable to respond to the situation in Worthville, Crawford said. She called Dr. Teresa Gregory in Crestwood, who is regularly involved with rabbit and fowl rescue cases.

“She dropped everything and came when she saw there was a need,” Crawford said. Dr. Gregory brought along an associate. “They examined every animal. They had to euthanize another 37 animals and eight more have died since then. Altogether, there were 253 animals dead and alive. They were being kept in an abandoned building with no heat and no windows.”

Crawford said she “will get itemized statements of everything and turn them over to the county attorney’s office.” She said she believes Cannon should be made to cover the veterinarian bills and other expenses involved in the confiscation of the animals.

“I have not talked to the county attorney about the expenses,” Tomlinson said, “but we will send a request to the court for the expenses to be reimbursed through the court system for that. We had to have employees out there to clean up, we had veterinarians out there. We have the expense of disposing of the dead animals. There will be a considerable amount of expense involved.”

     The investigation is ongoing, according to all law enforcement authorities contacted by The News-Democrat. “State and local authorities and health officials are still investigating and other charges may or may not be filed,” Tomlinson said.

    James Monk, Carroll County Attorney, verified that the investigation may lead to further action by authorities. At this time, Monk said, Cannon may face a court appearance as early as Oct. 8. “If not this Thursday, then it will be next Thursday for sure,” he said.