ST. CHARLES, Ill. (STMW) — Kane County Associate Judge Elizabeth Flood ruled Thursday that an Elgin woman charged with neglect of animals did not have to forfeit ownership of the horses, donkeys and two goats that had been taken from a Hampshire-area petting zoo earlier this month by Kane County Animal Control staff.

Flood said that while Stacy Fiebelkorn may have failed to provide adequate food or water for some of the animals at a petting zoo on Route 20, the state did not prove cruel treatment.

Kane County Animal Control will maintain custody of the animals, Flood said, and if Fiebelkorn does not provide a security fee for their care within five days, she could forfeit her rights.

Earlier in the afternoon, the prosecution called its second veterinarian to the stand, Dr. Susan Brown, who testified that most of the animals — including horses, donkeys, llamas, goats, alpacas and chickens were undernourished, many even emaciated. Some of the animals, she said, “were like living skeletons” and that a baby alpaca had trouble walking or standing upright.

Fiebelkorn attorney Jamie Wombacher countered with expert witness Dr. Phillip Kapraun, a veterinarian who specialized in horses, to testify he was brought to the premise soon after animal control was called in, and saw no animals that appeared to be malnourished or unhealthy. He also called the amount of feces he saw in the barn and pasture as normal, especially during a hard winter.

But in closing arguments, the prosecution cited the testimony of two veterinarians, as well as Kane County Animal Control Administrator Rob Sauceda and Sheriff Deputy Sue Deuchler, who insisted there was no food or water available to the animals and that the living conditions were unclean and crowded.

There was testimony Wednesday and Thursday about a dead horse, donkey and goat found frozen on the property. But the judge said the state failed to prove a link to Fiebelkorn.

Fiebelkorn, 34, was charged March 5 with cruelty to animals and neglect of an owner’s duties after county officials reportedly found numerous animals starving, thirsty, dirty and/or dead on two farms where she rents space — one near Maple Park and the other (where most of the animals were found) at the home base of the Mini Zoo Crew, at 44W222 Route 20 near Hampshire.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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