In May, the Wisconsin State Journal reported on a stable of emaciated horses owned or cared for by Mary Loeffelholz of Oregon. After much public outcry, 15 of the horses were subsequently surrendered. Some were given to two of Loeffelholz's family members; others were placed under the care of the Dane County Humane Society.
At a recent meeting of the Board of Health for Madison and Dane County, public health operation director David Caes noted that things got a "little messy" because the department "didn't have the resources to seize the horses." It was "not a great situation," he added.
Caes is now working with Doug Voegeli, the county's director for environmental health, who oversees the animal services office, to set up a fund that could be used for seizing neglected animals as well as for other public emergencies. In an interview, Caes says he envisions setting aside about $50,000 a year for the fund.
Caes says the fund would likely also be used to hire contractors to clean houses where extreme hoarding has created a health hazard and where efforts at voluntary compliance have failed. He says there are about a dozen such cases a year. The homeowner would repay the costs through a special property tax assessment.
The fund can be created administratively, says Caes, and does not need approval either by the Common Council or Dane County Board.