Man clearing property after accusations of animal neglect
The Indiana State Police are investigating a New Salisbury man for alleged animal cruelty violations; however, he has yet to be formally charged and recently removed more than 140 animals from his property in an effort to clean it up and resolve the matter.
ISP Trooper Shelley Romero said the ISP became involved Aug. 17, when the police post got a complaint. The caller said animals on the six-acre Dale Thompson homestead on Flatwoods Road appeared in poor health and ‘possibly near death,’ Romero said. Several additional calls came through within a short time that day reporting the same thing, she said.
The next morning, Romero visited the Thompson residence and found about 140 animals, including miniature horses, mules, goats, cows, rabbits and others. Romero said they were in poor health and in deplorable living conditions. She observed what she thought to be inadequate pasture for the number of animals there.
‘They were living in their own waste,’ Romero said. ‘Most of the hooved animals appeared to be really thin. This was a situation where these animals had been living in severe conditions for some time.’
Nobody was home that day. However, Romero discovered several animal skulls in a wooded area behind the home and she also found bones in some animal pens. Some of the animals were emaciated and appeared to be afflicted by parasites.
‘They were not in good shape, but they were not necessarily near death,’ the trooper said.
Romero returned the next day and found Thompson’s wife, Judy, at home. Romero and Judy Thompson walked around the property, and Judy told Romero that the animals were doing well, but a large water container was empty and Romero said she instructed Mrs. Thompson to fill it.
Indiana State Veterinarian Dr. James Hollis was contacted by Harrison County Police Officer Eric Fischer. A search warrant for the Thompson property was obtained through Harrison County Prosecutor Dennis Byrd’s office.
Romero said she never spoke with Dale Thompson and believed the Thompsons did not have a telephone at their home. Dale Thompson later called from a neighbor’s phone to inquire about the situation.
On Aug. 30, about 11:15 a.m., Romero, Fischer and Hollis went to the Thompson residence to serve the warrant. Judy Thompson answered the door, and the police informed her of the warrant. Romero said Dale Thompson arrived while the police were executing the search warrant.
Dr. Hollis checked the animals. Romero said she and the other officers were on the premises ‘eight or nine hours.’
Dale Thompson made arrangements to have the animals removed by a private individual, and all were hauled off that day.
‘Everything was removed,’ Romero said, ‘all animals outside as well as two dogs in the house. The animals would have been seized had he not taken care of them.’
Romero said Byrd’s office was notified several times the past year or more about the situation and complaints were received about a stench coming from the property. Prosecutor Dennis Byrd said no charges have been filed; he is waiting on Dr. Hollis’s report before taking a position in the case.
Harrison County Sheriff Mike Deatrick said complaints began to surface about a year ago. He and another officer, who was also familiar with horses, checked out the Thompson property. They did not go back the driveway, Deatrick said, but they noticed the animals had hay and a pond for drinking water.
‘We didn’t see nothing wrong with the animals,’ Deatrick said. ‘From our own experience, we didn’t see anything drastic with what they had.’
Another complaint was reported later, so Deatrick sent an officer back to the property who found nothing out of the ordinary.
Romero said a newspaper and several TV stations were notified of the situation by the ISP the day the warrant was issued and each ran a story.
Dale Thompson, in a Sept. 2 interview, said several things about the stories are untrue.
‘People are making things up,’ he said as he surveyed his property.
Thompson said television news reported he had a pot-bellied pig inside his house and a large buffalo on his property; both of those claims are false, he said.
He said he does not wish to cause problems and worries the situation will touch off controversy in the community. For that reason, he elected to remove the animals and is now in the process of cleaning up his property and repairing his home.
‘It’s over,’ he said. ‘I don’t want no problems.’
Thompson, who is employed full-time in Louisville and lives at his home with his wife and their two sons, said he began with miniature horses and burros and was raising the animals to sell.
He admitted putting some dead animals in the woods and burning several carcasses.
‘I shouldn’t have,’ he said.
The evening he was interviewed, Thompson was talking with several people about doing work at his property. He had already filled a large dumpster and several barrels with refuse. As of Sept. 8, he had put new siding on his house and done additional clearing of his land. He said he plans to tear down a dilapidated barn on his property.
‘We’re going to eliminate it,’ he said.
Although he has not been charged and has never been in trouble with the law, Thompson worries that the attention the case has drawn, on television and from curious passers-by, will lead people to think he has already been convicted.
‘It’s caused mixed emotions in the county,’ he said. ‘I’m trying to get along. The media, the newspapers, they need to leave it alone.’
Thompson said he understands the police are just doing their job, and that is why he was eager to cooperate.
‘I understand their position now,’ he added.
Thompson said he is done with animals and has no plans to obtain any more.
‘No animals, no nothing ‘ they’re all gone,’ he said. ‘I ain’t looking at the past, I’m looking at the future.’
Romero said on Sept. 3 she was completing a supplemental report on the case, which will also include the veterinarian’s findings once available. Appropriate charges will be determined after the report is completed.
Byrd said animal neglect is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by 180 days in the county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.