Commissioners hear concerns
Animal control officer requested

Cindy DiFazio - Staff Writer

The Ripley County Commissioners met in regular session on Monday, January 29. Commissioners Robert Reiners, Chuck Folz and Lawrence Nickell were present. Attorney Neil Comer and County Auditor, Mary Ann McCoy were also present.

Geneen Ostendorf, along with two other Ripley County residents, addressed the commissioners regarding what they termed as “cruelty to animals.” Ostendorf reported that she had witnessed what she believes to be an ongoing case of extreme neglect of local cattle. According to her, these animals are grossly underfed and are living in sub-par conditions.

Ostendorf, who drives a bus route, stated that even the children who ride her bus ask, “Why doesn’t somebody do something?” She posed the question, “If they’re raising animals for food why aren’t they feeding them?,” noting that the animals appear to be malnourished. Ostendorf went on to say, “I think we need an animal control officer - someone who will address these problems head on.” She suggested that if money is a problem, fines might help offset the cost.

The commissioners had requested that health department representatives, Andy Bryant and Wayne Peace be present for the discussion. Commissioners president, Robert Reiners, asked, “Andy, could you explain Ripley County policy?” Bryant told the gathering that the health department investigates allegations of cruelty to animals. If it is determined that abuse is taking place, the sheriff is called in and charges are pressed against the alleged offenders. He said that if necessary a veterinarian is brought in as an expert, noting “Who can determine if the animal is starving? A lot of times it comes down to a veterinarian to make that determination.” Bryant also noted that many health departments do not deal with these cases, stating, “We’ve chosen to do this.”

Commissioner Reiners asked, “If the county did have an animal control officer, what kind of authority would that person have?,” continuing, “Would the county have to confiscate and feed the animals?” Bryant responded that in the case of a large number of animals they would have to be “sheltered in place,” caring for them where they were already housed. He said that then the owner would be put in jail, and then, “Where do you get the feed and who feeds them?” Reiners noted, “We’ve taken horses and farmed them out to others.” Bryant stated, “I try not to put a dollar sign in front of what we do, but 100 head of cattle is a totally different thing.”

Bryant told commissioners that currently there are three ongoing investigations into such allegations. Ostendorf expressed appreciation for Bryant and Peace, saying, “I commend them for what they do.” She went on to address the commissioners again stating, “If you address this issue, people will say Ripley County is not going to let this continue to happen.”

In other business, Ken Hylton, the new Veterans’ Administrator came before the commissioners. He thanked the community for allowing him to serve the veterans. He reported transporting area veterans to 12 appointments in January a total of 1,600 miles, and believes the usage of this service will increase. Hylton also told the commissioners that the new veterans’ facility in Lawrenceburg now offers an in-house eye doctor and has room for a dentist.




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