Two individuals have each been arrested and charged with two counts of cruelty to animals and two counts of violating animal owner duties stemming from the deaths of two ponies on a Marengo farm. Jonathan E. Herrera, 21, of Harvard , a caretaker for the horses, and Jose Hidalgo, 45, of Elgin, the owner were taken into custody Nov. 22. Four miniature horses and one full-size mare were removed to the Barrington Hills-based Hooved Animal Rescue and Protection Society (HARPS) and are expected to recover.
McHenry County Animal Control officers, from the county department of health, made an on-site inspection of vaccination records for a Marengo dog-breeding business Nov. 21 when emaciated horses were seen in a corral and stable area. The following day, county sheriff’s deputies, HARPS members and a veterinarian, along with the animal control officers returned to the farm, where two of the miniature horses were discovered dead.
“The Illinois Department of Agriculture also became involved…four miniature horses and one full-size horse were taken away, due to malnourishment, and HARPS played a major role,” said Keri Zaleski, Communications Coordinator for the county health department. “If you’re going to have horses and animals, then take care of them. The site is not being revealed, as it is an ongoing investigation.”
After the Nov. 21 discovery, the county animal control office contacted HARPS and arranged for the horses to be impounded. “It's tragic when people lack the decency to feed even their own animals,’ said HARPS President Ronda Ewing. “It is against the law to starve, abandon, or cruelly treat animals. Thankfully, we have the ability in this country to prosecute these individuals, who commit such unspeakable acts.”
The two individuals were released from the McHenry County Jail after posting bond, and free while awaiting their preliminary hearings. HARPS officials also said they would maintain observations of the other animals at the Marengo site.