LIVINGSTON — New developments happening involving an animal cruelty investigation in Livingston.
It’s been quite an emotional day here at the Stafford Animal Shelter as several dogs were taken from their foster families and returned back to the owner.
“I haven’t slept since two in the morning this last week. It’s incredibly traumatic for us to have to send these dogs back right now,” said Jacquie Love, one of the foster family providers.
In May 2020, MTN News first reported 17 sled dogs were found on a property in Paradise Valley with one of the dogs deceased and another having to be euthanized. Fifteen dogs were brought to Stafford where they were given to foster families.
“I ended up bringing home two of the senior dogs, who were pretty rough when I got them here at the house," said Shannon Ongaro, another foster family provider. "One of them was alive for about a month before he passed away, and the second one died about three months, three and a half months after.”
But on Feb. 5, District Judge Brenda Gilbert ruled for the dogs to be returned back to their owner, Ice Fox, while he awaits his trial on animal cruelty charges, of which he says he’s innocent.
“Most days I think you know being dead’s better than this and I know it’s a lot cheaper," said Ice Fox. "I don’t know who these people are but maybe they’re starting to get the message of who the hell I am.”
According to the judge’s ruling, one of the factors the court considered was the availability of funding to provide for the animal’s treatment, shelter, and care. The shelter billed the county over 51 thousand dollars for care from May to December 2020.
"This is unreal," said Ice Fox. "This is incredible. There were a lot of times when I didn’t think this day would come.”
The foster families were hoping for a different outcome but remain hopeful.
"We filed a motion to the court to reconsider that decision, and we are hoping that the judge determines that it is the best for the animals to stay with their foster families or the shelter for the duration of the trial," said Ongaro.
A hearing will be on March 8 to set a trial date for the animal cruelty charges.