Police said a Kingsbury business owner tortured and injured dozens of farm animals.
When police arrived at Quality Stoneworks, they said they found 37 dead cows, chickens, alpacas, goats and other livestock inside a barn behind the business.
Neighbors said they had no idea.
“I was really shocked,” Carol Hirst said.
Neighbors described Jeffrey Owens as “quiet.” He was arrested months ago after they said they found animals starved to death in a barn behind his landscaping business. Neighbors said they wished Owens had reached out for help.
“If I had known the animals were in such awful shape I would’ve given them my hay,” Hirst said. “I’ve got two huge bales of hay, and the animals could’ve eaten them.”
“I’d have offered to go over and feed the animals,” neighbor Patty Wolfe said. “I mean, I could walk across the street and go do that.”
Owens said the animals died of a virus, but police said he tried to hide some of the dead cows. He was indicted on five felony counts of Tampering with Evidence and 36 misdemeanor counts of Animal Cruelty.
Local animal attorney Jonathan Schopf said he’s seen similar cases before.
“Over the last few years we’ve seen more and more of these large scale seizure operations happening in the rural counties,” he said. “Typically, you’ll find that if the animals aren’t fed for a long period of time, they will all be more or less housed together eating each other’s excrement, grass, anything they can find, which leads to parasitic infection and ultimately, death.”
Owens is facing significant time in prison for the felony charges, but the punishment for the misdemeanor animal cruelty counts are less severe.
“Typically, what you can face with that is up to a year in jail,” Schopf said.
Owens was released on his own recognizance and no bail was set.