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Pictures of dead animals spark investigation in Tooele County

(Photo: Heidi Jensen, Facebook video)

GRANTSVILLE – The Tooele County Sheriff’s Office is getting a lot of angry calls about dozens of dead animals that were found outside of a farm in Grantsville.  They’re investigating, but, they’re not confirming if a crime actually happened.

The dumping grounds were found by Heidi Jensen, who says she was “treasure hunting” near an area by Higley Road.  Along with several sets of bones, Jensen says she could spot animals like llamas, a baby goat and even a zebra that were left to rot.

Jensen says, “There are so many skeletal remains, I couldn’t even tell you how many animals are there.”

She posted the pictures on social media, which sparked a flood of calls coming into the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office.  Jensen says the dump site was closely to the Ivie Farms in Grantsville.

“Just animals that I could see or identify, I could probably identify about ten of them.  They were that bad and piled on top of each other,” she says.

The Grantsville Police Department was called to the Ivie Farms, and officers say the animals that were alive on the premises appeared to be in good condition.  However, the dump site was technically outside of city limits.

Tooele County Sheriff’s Sergeant Shandy Riches says, “With the amount of people that are upset about this, we need to do a thorough investigation and to make sure that everything is being done properly.”

Riches believes it could be as late as Friday before investigators have a better picture about what happened.  They have to investigate whether or not anyone deliberately harmed these animals, or if they died of natural causes.  Plus, she says it’s common for farmers to leave all their deceased animals in one specific spot, to keep them away from the rest of the livestock.  So, they’ll have to see if the animals came from Ivie Farms, and if the farmers were allowed to leave them there.

Riches says, “The animals that are in that spot have varying levels of decomposition, so it looks like some have been there for a long time.”

Officials from the Humane Society say they were notified about the animal remains, however, they don’t have the authority to investigate.  They say there are specific rules requiring horses to be buried, and restrictions are even tighter within the city of Grantsville.

Ivie Farms operates a traveling petting zoo, which is why they have exotic animals.  They issued a statement saying…

“Ivie Acres Farms is privileged to own and care for over 100 farm and exotic animals. Ivie Acres and its owners closely monitor the health and wellbeing of all of its animals, including providing regular veterinary care and periodic inspections by the U.S.D.A. to ensure a clean, healthy, and safe environment.

Approximately 3-percent of animals on the farm pass away during each year due to age, illness, or unfortunate injury. This rate is equal to or lower than the industry standard. Ivie Acres Farms provides immediate and necessary care to any of its animals that may be in distress.

“Ivie Acres strongly disagrees with any claims that its animals are mistreated. Its owners and volunteers are passionate animal lovers that spend every day with their animals to ensure their wellbeing. Any claims regarding mistreatment of any animal are completely false. In response to a recent unfounded complaint, the Grantsville Police Department investigated the welfare of the animals, and stated that no animals appeared to be in any distress.

“Ivie Acres Farms will continue to provide quality care and loving attention to all of its precious animals.”