A local animal rescue group caring for a herd of seized cattle has been paid by Cook County after waiting nearly six months to be reimbursed.
Illinois Horse Rescue of Will County said it spent tens of thousands of its own dollars on food and veterinary care for the cattle after Cook County rescued the animals and temporarily turned them over to the group’s care in May while it investigated the cows’ owners. But the county recently issued a check to the group for more than $72,000 to cover the costs.
The rescue group’s president, Tony Pecho, said the mounting cost of caring for the cattle was impacting the care and food supplies needed for his other rescue animals. He said prospective rescue animals were also being turned away.
Pecho called the payment a “sigh of relief” and said his facility can now accept new rescue animals.
“I’m glad we got it and we're purchasing hay now and we're bringing it in now and now I feel relieved that we'll be able to sustain the animals and new animals that were waiting to come in,” Pecho said.
A county spokesperson said the county is working on a contract with the rescue group for any ongoing care that may be required for the cows.
According to investigators, the cows were found undernourished on land near Ford Heights in May. The county earlier said the cattle owners may have violated the animal control ordinance. However, a county spokesperson said the state’s attorney’s office has since dropped the charges because the office did not believe it could meet the burden of proof.
NBC 5 Investigates has learned the cattle owners are suing Cook County and Illinois Horse Rescue of Will County. According to the lawsuit, the owners claim their animals were seized illegally and the incident caused them embarrassment.
“The lawsuit speaks for itself and we look forward to presenting the case,” attorney John Krupa said.
The rescue group denies the allegations.
“Truth of the matter is now these cows got another start,” Pecho said. “They were going downhill quick and now they're healthy.”
The rescue group relies on donations and they hope to adopt out more animals.