CORUNNA — Animal cruelty charges against a New Lothrop area man have been dropped as part of an agreement that saw him give up nearly two dozen cows.
Raymond Jacobs, 53, of New Lothrop, was charged with animal cruelty/neglect in May, but the charges were dropped recently as part of an agreement.
Officials confiscated 18 cows from Jacobs’ Hazelton Township farm in May after Shiawassee County Animal Control found 16 dead cows on the property.
During the seizure, a 17th dead cow was discovered. Police said at the time that the cattle died “from malnutrition and inadequate care.”
Authorities did not disclose where the live animals were moved to, but asked for donations of hay and grain at the time of the seizure. The 18 surviving animals appeared sick and emaciated at the time they were seized, officials said, but were nursed back to health.
At his arraignment May 21, Jacobs pleaded not guilty. He posted a $5,000 cash/surety bond the following day.
Animal cruelty is a felony offense, and is punishable by up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or 500 hours of community service.
In August, Jacobs waived a preliminary exam and was bound over for potential trial in 35th Circuit Court.
However, prosecutors in October dropped the charges against Jacobs in return for him relinquishing the 18 animals that were seized by police.
Shiawassee County prosecutor Deana Finnegan defended the decision to drop the charges against Jacobs.
“Had he not forfeited the animals, it would have been prolonged, and gone to court, and it would have been longer,” Finnegan said, “Dragging this out would have cost the county even more money. And during the time that it was being dragged out in court, the cost to the county of caring for the animals would have kept increasing. We wanted, of course, to save the animals, and save the county money at the same time.
“Should (Jacobs) have gotten punishment? Yeah,” she said, “But we have to balance the welfare of the animals with the cost to the county. We had to balance the desire for a “pound of flesh” with the need to make sure the animals were safe.
“The county is stuck with the vet bill and the bill to house them for the few months that they were in foster care.” Finnegan added. “The goal was to get them away from these people. We knew he didn’t have the money to pay for the care, so the most important thing to us was to get them into a safe place.”
Animal Health Care of Chesaning treated the animals that were seized, but representatives declined comment for this story.