MARION — An Illinois Department of Agriculture spokesman said Thursday, a state animal welfare inspector has recommended criminal charges be filed against the owner or owners of neglected horses on property off Mustang Road near Whiteash.

“Those are not administrative penalties,” said spokesman Jeff Squibb about recent visits from an inspector of the department’s division of animal welfare on request of Williamson County Animal Control. The county had received calls concerning dead animal carcasses seen by motorists.

Authorities said they found five neglected horses, as well as two horse carcasses.

“These are criminal charges for failure to provide adequate food and water and a

violation of the department’s disposal act.”

Squibb said filling of charges lies with the Williamson County state’s attorney office. The state’s attorney’s office said comment will not be available until next week.

Squibb said the potential charges constitute misdemeanors punishable by fines up to $1,500 and potential jail sentence up to six months.

He said the state animal welfare inspectors do not determine fines. The county’s animal control department requested assistance from the state after receiving complaints.

“We’re monitoring this situation. We’ve been to the property twice. Certainly our agency investigates these types of complaints,” Squibb said.

County and state officials found a dead horse lying near a gate that had been dead for about a week. They found another dead horse in tall grass that had been dead several weeks. The horse’s body had begun to decompose, Squibb said.

Officials found five horses on the property that “were in acceptable condition,” Squibb said. However, there was a lack of food and water for those horses, he said.

The potential criminal charges are possible violations of the state’s humane care for animals act and failure to provide owner duties.

Williamson County Commissioner Brent Gentry said he has taken an active role in the case and is looking at animal welfare complaints filed from Williamson County with the state department’s animal welfare division since 2011.

“I can assure you, the state’s attorney will be working with me. This is totally unacceptable. We’re seeing how these citations (complaints) are being written up and how to go about prosecuting it. I’m asking him (the state’s attorney) to press criminal charges,” Gentry said earlier this week.

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