Prosecutor: Farm owner may face cruelty charges

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A prosecutor says a Madison County farm owner could face criminal charges over conditions at a central Indiana farm where investigators found up to 150 dead animals.

Madison County prosecutor Rodney Cummings told The Indianapolis Star Friday that he had never seen an animal cruelty case of such magnitude.

Deputies have been burying carcasses since receiving a report earlier this week of several dead animals inside a barn in Summitville, about 68 miles northeast of Indianapolis. Investigators initially found 100 carcasses, but found more in a septic tank Wednesday. Investigators also found several surviving malnourished animals.

Farm co-owner Carrie Ault says the plight of the farm's surviving animals has been exaggerated.

Animal neglect is a Class D felony under Indiana law, punishable by up to three years in prison.

Maleah Stringer is the director of Madison County's Animal Protection League. She says the league does not have the resources to care for the animals and the community will have to step up. Stringer says they are already being flooded with calls offering food and other help.

"Complete disregard for any sort of compassion or caring or humanity. It's just appalling," said Stringer.

How you can help

If you are able to take in one of the animals, or if you can donate food, money or other items, contact

Daniel and Carrie Ault run the Strawtown animal auction, and recently purchased a meat packing company. Daniel Ault returned to the farm and talked with detectives. He told them he had gotten behind and that the animals had died of "natural causes."

Investigators are also looking into the conditions that the Aults' children may have been living in. They found evidence that the family had been living in one of the barns and using buckets for toilets.

An online petition is calling for charges to be brought against the owners of the farm.