CULVER, Ore. - (Update: DA comments on status of case, Larkly's conditional release)
A 40-year-old Culver man has been arrested on 114 counts of animal neglect after a raid on a property turned up more than 100 goats, pigs, sheep and chickens, several of them dead and others dying from lack of adequate food, water and care, Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said Tuesday.
A week-long investigation led to Monday's arrest of caretaker Joshua Larkly on 14 counts of first-degree animal neglect, 86 counts of second-degree animal neglect and 14 counts of "placing an offensive substance in a field," a charge related to animal carcasses found on the property, Adkins said.
He initially was being held at the Jefferson County Jail on $700,000 bail, but was conditionally released from jail Tuesday pending a June 8th court date, a jail deputy said.
Asked about Larkly's release, Jefferson County District Attorney Steven Leriche provided this statement Wednesday to NewsChannel 21:
"This is a complex case, with significant investigation left to be completed. If the individual was kept in jail, then the case would be required to go to grand jury today (Wednesday), and with a case of this nature, I want to receive the complete investigation before going to grand jury.
"It will go to grand jury when I receive the investigation reports and evidence from the sheriff’s office," Leriche said.
Adkins said 14 of the 110 animals found on the parcel on Elbe Drive either were dead at the scene or have died since the investigation began. The others have been placed in foster care with three area farmers.
“I’ve been working for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for 31 years, Adkins told NewsChannel 21. “And I can tell you this is the worst (animal neglect) case in Jefferson County that I’ve seen.”
In an email report to Adkins, sheriff's Deputy Steve Keever said the investigation began on Monday, April 24, after a call to the sheriff's office from someone who had four wandering pigs penned up and could not locate the owner.
A visit to the property overseen by the Larklys on Elbe Drive turned up dead animals in pens with live ones, Keever said.
Keever said Joshua Larkly gave permission to bring a vet to the location to assess the animals, at county expense. The deputy also said the reported owner, Larkly's older brother, Guy Larkly, 44, who is a truck driver, could not be located and had not been heard from in a few weeks.
“We want to get his side of the story, so that we can put it together,” Adkins said, asking anyone who knows of Guy Larkly's whereabouts to contact the sheriff's office.
Dr. Kelley Jones, DVM, of Around the Bend Veterinary Services was called to the scene last Tuesday, April 25, and was "appalled" at what she found, Keever said, with "minimum care standards not being met" for the roughly 30 to 35 goats, 17 to 22 pigs, seven to 10 sheep, three cows and a "multitude" of chickens found on the property.
"No water is in the pens, not proper types of food is being fed and the animals are sick and dying from no vet services," Keever wrote to the sheriff.
Last Wednesday, the sheriff's office contacted Kate Beardsley, executive director of the Bend nonprofit Mustangs to the Rescue, who Keever said put together a team of volunteers to help re-home the animals.
Many of the animals were moved to a Crook County location where a farmer agreed to quarantine most of the animals. Two other farmers also are helping care for some of them, but Keever told Adkins late last week that more deaths had occurred even since the raid and others could need to be euthanized due to their poor health.
Only five ducks and five chickens remained on the property this week, Keever said.
A visit now shows the conditions the animals were living in, with several abandoned vehicles, old boats and piles of trash now.
“These animals were on a downward spiral, for certain,” Beardsley said. “There were quite a lot of thin animals, and they were being contained in very cramped conditions.”
But she said she's optimistic that the ones who have survived to this point will continue to recover.