Mystery surrounds farm animals found hidden, starving on Detroit's west side

Posted at 10:16 PM, Jul 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-07 08:46:06-04

Detroit Police, Detroit Animal Control and the Michigan Department of Agriculture were all investigating after more than a dozen farm animals were found hidden in the Warrendale neighborhood on May 3. 

That’s at W. Warren Avenue near Greenfield. 

A call came into 911 that morning and opened the case. The caller was concerned they were there for an Arab or Muslim ritual. 

The caller said the animals were fenced in with the fence covered with blankets to hide them.

A Detroit police officer on the scene phoned a friend, a farmer who lives up north. He also sent some of the pictures from the scene to the 7 Investigators.

The farmer agreed to take in the animals and nurse them back to good health. We didn't use his name, because like the caller to 911, he’s also concerned about a backlash.

The farmer tells 7 Investigator Jim Kiertzner that four cattle had to be put down before they were brought to him. Three more cattle died on his farm. 

He says a veterinarian found some had developed pneumonia. They had been starving. 

Pictures show some of the cattle were very thin. 

There were also three sheep and one alpaca. They survived, but not without suffering. 

It is not clear why the animals were there. 

The Detroit Animal Care spokesperson said DPD requested that crowds of neighbors move back away from the scene. She also says the owner of the property denied owning the animals. 

The Detroit Animal Care investigation is closed with no charges pending. 

Dr. James Averill, of the Michigan Department of Agriculture tells 7 Investigator Jim Kiertzner their role was to assist the city in tracking ownership of the animals. A department spokesman says they established through ear tags that one cow came from New York State, four from Indiana and two from Michigan. 

They do not know the owner. Neither the city nor the state established whether the animals were brought to Detroit for a Muslim ritual.

The farmer wants someone prosecuted for animal cruelty. His attorney is a former chief assistant prosecutor. He called 7 Investigator Kiertzner about the case and says officials failed.

The farmer says he’s spent about $700 on expenses and was told grant money would be available to pay him back. 

He’s not been paid.