Pharos-Tribune

October 13, 2013

Cass officials say no wrongdoing in dead cow incident

Owner says he needed time to get equipment for burial.

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
Pharos-Tribune

---- — Cass County officials say no wrongdoing was discovered in an incident involving a tied, rotting cow carcass on a farm near Royal Center early last week.

On the afternoon of Oct. 7, a dead cow was visible on a property off of West Ind. 16 near Royal Center, owned by Scott Hunter. The decomposing animal had rope binding its front hooves, the other end of which was tied to the exterior of a barn.

Hunter said the cow, which was a Holstein about a year old, died Oct. 4 and that it was buried on the 7th.

"The cow died on Friday and it was buried on Monday," he said, adding that the rope was used to drag the animal out of the barn. He said he did not know the cause of death and that the cow appeared to be in healthy condition the day before he noticed it had died.

Cass County Animal Control Officer Brian Hyder said he was dispatched to Hunter's residence early in the week of Oct. 7, although he could not recall the specific date. While he was unable to make contact with Hunter, he said he noticed the carcass. Hunter said he was aware of Hyder's attempt to make contact before burying the animal.

Bob Vernon, office administrator of the Cass County Health Department, said the office was not aware of the incident until Thursday. After visiting with Hunter Friday, he confirmed the carcass had been disposed.

Indiana Code requires the disposal of carcasses within 24 hours of learning of an animal's death.

"He said it passed away and laid there for a couple days until he could get the proper equipment to dispose of it," Vernon said.

Dr. Chris Ciotta, a veterinarian who runs the Cass County Animal Hospital, said he had not been contacted about Hunter's cow.

Ciotta last visited with Hunter in July after a video surfaced online of three horses on Hunter's property alleging the horses were neglected. Ciotta determined they were not malnourished, but recommended Hunter give them higher quality feed.

While addressing Hunter's horses earlier this summer, Ciotta said he observed three cow calves in the barn being fed hay, which he told Hunter should be out feeding on grass.

"He was supposed to take all of the cattle to pasture to graze instead of being in the building — that's the agreement we had," Ciotta said.

However, Hunter said he only had one cow and hasn't had more than one for several years.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com. Follow him: @PharosMAK