GRAPHIC: Kansas man not arrested, charged for neglecting over 50 animals after investigation uncovers sick, dead animals

A rabbit suffers from an injury that has made its eyes ooze in a dirty cage on the Vesterberg...
A rabbit suffers from an injury that has made its eyes ooze in a dirty cage on the Vesterberg property.(CAPS)
Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 10:22 AM CDT
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MILTONVALE, Kan. (WIBW) - A man from Miltonvale has been charged with 10 counts of animal cruelty for neglecting over 50 animals, including rabbits and sheep after an investigation found sick and dead animals on his property.

Companion Animal Protection Society, CAPS, says the Ottawa Co. District Attorney’s Office charged Kevin Daniel Vesterberg, of Miltonvale, on Friday, June 4, with 10 counts of animal cruelty. It said Vesterberg will appear in court on June 15.

According to CAPS, on May 24, Ottawa Co. Deputy Sheriff Tyler VanCoevern responded to its complaint that animals were in a severe state of neglect on one of Virgil Vesterberg’s properties, who lives just over two-and-a-half miles away from the property. It said it believes that Kevin is the son of Virgil. It is still unclear who owns the animals.

CAPS said over 50 animals, including three rabbits, had been neglected. It said Deputy VanCoevern found emaciated sheep and goats, a sheep with hooves over a foot long, a sheep with a bloody prolapse, several limping animals, a rabbit with an oozing eye and countless animal bones on the property. It said food and water were not found to be available to live animals.

CAPS said VanCoevern contacted Vesterberg to get food and water to animals and released animals from pens so those capable of walking could get access to plants outside their enclosures.

According to CAPS, as VanCoevern checked on the animals each day, he arranged for a veterinarian to go to the property for more documentation of the animals on May 29. It said VanCoevern invited its investigator and Kansas Director Debbie Miller to help with the documentation of neglected animals and all parties submitted evidence to Ottawa Co. District Attorney Richard Buck.

CAPS said on June 4, Buck charged Vesterberg with 10 counts of cruelty to animals. If not for the persistent action of Deputy VanCoevern in responding to its complaint about livestock cruelty, it said more animals would have died of starvation.

According to CAPS, the sick and injured animals have not yet received any veterinary care, but at least one dead animal has been removed from the property since the investigation. It said the Vesterbergs have been allowed on the property to care for the animals, but have only set out water and old hay.

CAPS said it plans to send any animal that can be removed from Vesterberg’s property to sanctuaries where they will get veterinary care and live out their lives peacefully. It said it hopes that with a cruelty conviction, Vesterberg will be forced to give his livestock to rescues and will be prohibited from owning any more animals.

Deputy VanCoevern said that Vesterberg was not arrested as the case went through the County Attorney’s Office.

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