Help on the Way for Butler County Animals

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Michelle Stewart says: "When we drove up, just the sight of the place, we were appalled."

Michelle Stewart unwittingly became an advocate for the animals on a farm in Butler County. When her mother died, she sold eight horses to Mary Libecco. But when she failed to receive payment and was unable to contact Libecco, Stewart and her husband went to check things out.

Stewart says: "One of the horses was in an 8x8 pen, 10x10. She was ankle deep in mud. You could not even see her hooves."

The horse in the pen did not have any food or water; in fact, there is not running water anywhere on the property. That's not all Stewart saw.

Stewart says: "There was a dog chained up. He was all skin and bones. He didn't have any food. He didn't have any water."

Of all the animals, there was only one bag of food, and it was empty.

Butler County Judge Executive, Hugh Evans, says: "I've had animals all my life and I don't want to see them mistreated, but there's process you have to go through to get taken care of."

Evans says they are in the process of getting a court order to remove the animals. But for some it may be too late. While we were there, we saw one dog that had recently died and the skeletons of other animals.

Evans says: "If you're letting cats and dogs and horses starve then I think they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent. Whatever the law allows."

Libecco was in court on March 2 for charges of cruelty to animals. Those charges stem from law enforcement finding multiple dead rabbits in cages. Libecco tells WBKO she believes Stewart sold her the horses for a cheap price, and realized they were worth more. Now, she says Stewart is trying to get back at her.

Stewart says she has been visiting the farm to feed the animals and she freed the horse that was kept in the pen, to be with the rest of the horses. But she lives in Ashland City, Tennessee and says it's difficult to make the trip daily.

According to Judge Evans, the court order to remove the animals should be approved soon. Then all the animals are to be placed in foster care.