Brown County investigators reveal why animal cruelty case lingered

BROWN COUNTY — Brown County law enforcement officers continue to monitor farm animals involved in a case in which animal cruelty charges were filed last month.

Due to logistics and legal reasons, the animals have not been removed from property on Becks Grove Road.

Brown County Sheriff’s Department Animal Control officers first became aware of animals on property owned by Roy Fish, 65, and Penney Carey, 50, both of 8571 West 275 South, Columbus, a few years ago when pigs would get loose, said Brown County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Brad Stogsdill.

“He (Fish) did the minimum, but the minimum as far as the law goes is good enough,” Animal Control Officer Bethany Heldman said.

On Feb. 6, Fish and Carey were charged in Brown Circuit Court with two counts each of cruelty to an animal, both Class A misdemeanors.

A probable-cause affidavit filed in February by Animal Control Officer Amanda Sisson included descriptions of nearly 90 animals’ living conditions, including inadequate shelter, deep mud and muck, and no visible food or water.

Sisson had met with Fish and Carey several times over the past six years, and they had acknowledged ownership and responsibility for the animals on the property, her report said.

After news of their arrests hit the news last month, readers began asking why it took so long for charges to be filed and what would happen to the animals now.

Law enforcement has to work within legal rules, the officers said. Sisson said over the years, Fish would do a “Band-Aid fix” to problems when approached by Animal Control. “We would have complaints, then I’d go out and speak with him. He kind of fixes the issue to make you back off for a while,” she said.

Also, the animals are the property of Fish and Carey, and if law enforcement was to remove them, they’d have to go through a legal process, the officers said.

“You can’t decide one day, ‘I feel bad for these pigs and I’m just going to take them,’” Heldman said.

“It’s so hard, just because when you look at the animal, if it was not in the mud and the muck, if they were standing out in a grassy field, they do not look like they’re being neglected or abused,” Sisson said.

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.