MADISON COUNTY (WISH) – A couple facing hundreds of charges in an animal cruelty case reached a plea deal this week.
Daniel and Carrie Ault will be sentenced next month after each pleaded guilty to four counts improper disposal of a dead animal after about 150 were found dead on their farm in Summitville.
If investigators hadn’t discovered the dead animals on that farm, then it’s possible dozens who were there alive would have shared the same fate.
But getting them out of there was only the first step, finding them a home was next. Second chances can be found grazing all around Lance Rosencrans’ farm near Alexandria, like his little horse Brownie.
“She’s still got spirit,” Rosencrans said.
Brownie is an adopted member of his farming family. “She’s just still weary of people.”
But not his horse Nutmeg. “We ended up adopting her, too.”
Two horses with room to roam and food for days, a far cry from what life used to be like.
“Oh it’s always on my mind,” said Rosencrans. “It’ll be something that I’ll never forget where (they) came from.
Nearly two years ago, Brownie and Nutmeg were survivors living among the dead at a Summitville farm owned by the Aults.
“The things that you see, the skid loader backing out with horses in a grappling hook that you know, were dead, that they were just pulling out of the barn,” remembered Rosencrans.
Mass graves were dug out and filled with about 150 carcasses including horses, goats, rabbits.
“It’s one thing to see a few dead bodies, it’s another thing to see that many,” said Maleah Stringer who was there as the rescue effort began. She’s the director of Anderson’s Animal Protection League, the group tasked to not only nurse the animals back to health, but find them new owners.
“Well that was one of the few good things that happened out of this thing was that when we asked for help, we got it,” she said.
Donations helped pay for the medical care. Rescues and foster care volunteers took in all 165 surviving animals.
“Even in something that was so bad, we still had all these people doing such good things for the animals,” Stringer said.
People like the Rosencrans’, who knew that on a farm filled with animals needing second chance, there was room for two more.
“Dogs, horses, anything, they know they’re in a better place,” he said talking about Brownie and Nutmeg. “They know that you know, people love them, and they love them back.”
Despite the good news, Stringer was still upset after hearing about the plea deal. She wasn’t expecting more than a hundred charges to be dismissed for the Aults.
“It’s hard to understand when you have over 200 counts that it ends up being four felony and I was told that we were lucky that we got felony charges as opposed to misdemeanor,” she said.
The Aults will be sentenced on Feb. 13. The Madison County Prosecutor said they face a maximum sentence of four years. But it could be much less if a judge rules the charges be treated as a misdemeanor.