" This man is a felon, horse thief , kill buyer and animal abuser.THANK YOU all Arkansas Congressmen and Women for enabling this type of behavior with your lack of support for HR 503 and S 727. " (Lisa Griffith)
Horses rescued. Officials documenting neglect, starvation
SALEM — Just how many days or weeks it has been since 80 to 100 horses have been fed in Fulton County is still unclear, but as of this morning “100 bales of Bermuda grass and a half ton of alfalfa high protein cubes” are en route to help save the starving animals.
The rescue got under way this morning after a search warrant was signed by Fulton County District Judge Jim Short Wednesday night giving permission to seize animals, registration papers, or any other papers or items that may contain information.
The warrant was designated for property belonging to Rodney and Bill Kankey.
The move to take the horses began Tuesday after a Fulton County deputy was called to remove a horse off the highway on U.S. 62 between Salem and Viola.
After securing the horse, Deputy Lance Gray found there was no food, no water and one dead horse in the field, prompting him to further investigate possible animal cruelty.
The horses belong to Rodney and Teri Kankey, who live next door to Bill and Charlotte Kankey, the parents of Rodney.
Rodney Kankey, 49, is currently being held in the Fulton County jail on a $250,000 bond not related to the alleged abuse of the animals. He has been incarcerated since Thanksgiving for terroristic threatening and being a felon in possession of a weapon.
Teri Kankey, who is estranged from her husband, attempted to remove the horses from the property, which is owned by her in-laws, Bill and Charlotte Kankey, but was unable to do so, authorities said.
Gray said he advised Bill and Charlotte Kankey of the law on animal cruelty and that he would be contacting the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the Untied States in reference to the horses’ welfare.
This morning the rescue mission got under way.
Arkansas State Director Desiree Bender with HSUS, along with three Missouri officials with the ASPCA met with law enforcement officers at the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office at 8 a.m. before heading to the property about 6.8 miles between Salem and Viola.
Shortly after Gray and Salem Police Chief Albert Roark served Bill Kankey with the warrant, the team began working to secure the property and take a head count of the animals.
According to Roark, Bill Kankey claimed only four of the horses on the property were his.
Bender said the group would begin by counting the horses and assessing needs, which will be an expensive operation, due to the number of animals involved.
The group began counting, photographing and taking notes on the Kankey premises.
The warrant gave access to the home including all storage areas, rooms, attic, basement, outbuildings, barns, trash containers and the surrounding grounds of the residence, and including any and all vehicles and persons present at the scene.
Bonnie Dean, shelter operations manager and veterinarian tech with the ASPCA, said her job would be to check the animals’ medical needs and assess them.
Roark said there would be obvious medical needs, explaining a local veterinarian had suggested they use caution after coming in contact with the animals saying some have been diagnosed with strangles, also known as horse distemper.
A quick count of the lot and barn directly behind Rodney Kankey’s home held approximately 95 horses. All food containers were empty and no water was in sight for those housed in the barn. Some stalls contained only one horses while others held several.
Horses left in the barren field did have access to a pond on the property.
Rodney Kankey, authorities said, is a broker for the horses designated for slaughter.
The rescue team said it would be difficult to find placement for such a large number of horses, but the call would go out nationwide to find homes in an “already over saturated market.”
The team prepared to search and secure the acreage and find the dead horses “piled at the back of the property.”
Roark said he did not know the number of dead horses involved, but they would have to be properly disposed of. Photos of starving and dead horses were also obtained from a concerned citizen.
In addition to the Fulton County charges, Rodney Kankey was recently arrested in Marion County for allegedly stealing a horse and committing other crimes. He posted a $10,000 bond following his arrest. Marion County Sheriff Roger Vickers said Rodney Kankey is charged with felony theft of property, criminal mischief, criminal trespass and harassing communications.
Kankey’s arrest stems from an incident in September when he allegedly trespassed on another person’s property, caused damage to a gated area and then took a horse that did not belong to him.
Currently no charges have been filed in connection with the animals.