Midwest volunteers aid seized animals

Dozens of volunteers descended on a farm near Hampshire, Illinois, on Tuesday to whisk away more than 90 animals, including horses, goats and alpacas, after their owner was charged with cruelty and failing to provide proper care.

The heavy-duty pickups lined both sides of Illinois Route 20, each hauling a horse trailer. One by one, the handlers loaded an underfed animal aboard.

“You’re going to be beautiful in a couple months,” one woman said soothingly before the malnourished horse obediently stepped into its trailer.

Stacy Fiebelkorn, 44, of Elgin, was charged last week with misdemeanor cruelty to animals and failing to provide care and shelter. Kane County animal control officials said they found several dead animals and others seriously ill at two farms where she leased space, one near Maple Park in Kane County and the other near Hampshire. All of the animals lacked access to water, officials said.

The owner of the farm near Hampshire told authorities last week that the animals could remain there but on Monday asked authorities to move them. So the rescue effort got underway, the caravan of trucks hauling dozens of animals — miniature horses, donkeys and caged rabbits among them — to two farms near Maple Park.

More than 100 volunteers answered the call for help, which was put out through social and traditional media…

Kane Health Department Executive Director Barb Jeffers, whose department oversees animal control, said volunteers came from throughout the Chicago area, even from Wisconsin…

Fiebelkorn ran a petting zoo and rescue operation, according to authorities, and may have become overwhelmed with the number of animals under her care.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which issues licenses to animal exhibitors, canceled Fiebelkorn’s license to operate a petting zoo on March 6, after receiving a complaint from a private citizen, a spokeswoman confirmed.

Fiebelkorn had been cited 13 times for violating some provisions of the federal Animal Welfare Act during unannounced inspections dating to May 2012, according to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Neighbors helping neighbors ain’t restricted to urban neighborhoods. Fortunately.

Folks helping animals also understand that critters are part of every neighborhood.