Board of Animal Health responds to animal abuse allegations

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health has released additional information regarding allegations of animal abuse at a residence in La Grange County.

The BOAH assists in investigations in cases of suspected animal abuse, neglect, hoarding or fighting.

BOAH officials released information regarding their role in an investigation and the specifics of this investigation in an effort to inform concerned residents.

Animal Neglect and Abuse Investigations and Response:

1. BOAH regularly works with law enforcement officials to investigate alleged cases of neglect, abuse, hoarding, and animal fighting. Neglect and abuse of animals are illegal in Indiana, although prosecuting cases can be difficult. BOAH veterinarians provide law enforcement agencies with assessments of case-related animals, including their living environments, food and water supplies, body condition scores, and overall general health.

2. Effort is made, whenever possible, to do unannounced visits to obtain an accurate perspective of the situation, including the presence of sufficient food and/or water. However, a site inspection provides only a snapshot in time of a situation.

3. Investigators, including BOAH veterinarians, are trained to gather evidence during an inspection that could be used to build a legal case. Investigators are bound by the rule of law and cannot legally enter barns and outbuildings without a warrant, unless the owner has granted permission. Therefore, visits may allow an assessment only of animals publicly visible.

4. The removal/confiscation/seizure of animals are legal acts that must be undertaken by a law enforcement agency. BOAH does not confiscate or seize animals.

5. BOAH and local law enforcement agencies do not have adequate human and monetary resources to do round-the-clock surveillance and daily inspections of animal facilities or farms.

6. Decisions to take legal action—such as charges, fines, or confiscations—can be made only after sufficient evidence is collected to establish a case that can withstand a legal challenge. When such a determination is made, the case must be processed through the legal system of the local jurisdiction.

Statement about the LaGrange County Investigation:

1. The LaGrange County Sheriff and BOAH have an open investigation on the animals at 3455 N State Road 9, Howe, IN, owned by Larry Myers.

2. Mr. Myers is a regular buyer of cattle and horses at area auctions and other sites. Mr. Myers frequently purchases otherwise unwanted, low-cost animals that he can feed for a period of time, then resell. In some cases, the animals in his possession may be dropped off at his farm without his consent—at times when Mr. Myers is not present. In some cases, these animals are in extremely poor health, with little chance of recovery.

3. Most animals are not in Mr. Myers’ possession for more than a few weeks or months. The frequent turnover of animals presents an appearance of ongoing, long-term poor condition of the animals. In many cases, the animals are not the same between visits by BOAH and LaGrange County investigators, as Mr. Myers has sold them.

4. The investigation and response to the latest incident is still underway:

  • During the April 30 visit to the property, the BOAH veterinarian evaluated the condition of the animals present at that time. The condition of some animals was poor; although, ample supply of feed was on the property, and water is hauled in daily. The BOAH veterinarian provided Mr. Myers with a timeline for a specific list of action items designed to aid in the animals’ recovery. BOAH and LaGrange County Sheriff’s office will be following up to verify compliance.
  • Mr. Myers was asked to produce records to substantiate the purchase dates of animals in his possession.
  • BOAH is investigating the source(s) of the animals at the site to determine if further action is necessary for the original owner(s) of the animals.
  • BOAH is reaching out to area livestock auction markets to address the condition of animals that are being consigned for sale.
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