By Liz Shepherd
CLAYPOOL — A Claypool man was recently arrested after 11 dead cattle were found on a property and several animals were found in states of malnourishment.
Eric L. Decker, 62, 7346 S. CR 400W, Claypool, is charged with failure to properly dispose of a dead animal, a level 6 felony; and two counts of cruelty to an animal, both class A misdemeanors.
On July 11, a Claypool Police officer attempted to find the owners of stray cattle at a barn near CR 200W in Claypool. In the barn, the officer found live cattle that were living, walking and laying with a number of dead cattle.
On July 13, a Kosciusko County Sheriff’s deputy was called to the property to check the condition of the cattle at the barn. According to court documents, the deputy looked through an opening in the barn and saw three living cattle, as well as decomposing bodies of what he believed to be six deceased cattle. The deputy could see that the cattle broke through a barn partition to get to an area that had a barrel with water in it, but could not see any feed or hay for the cattle.
On July 14, the officer served a search warrant at the property. During the search of the property, three living cattle and 11 dead cattle in various stages of decomposition were found in the barn’s lower level. Some were skeletons, others were covered in their hide and one was in the early stages of decomposition. While searching the barn, no feed, hay or water were available for the cattle. The officer also found a dog in an enclosed area chained to a large, heavy pallet. The dog did not have food or water available, and appeared to have a broken front leg that did not heal properly.
An Indiana State Board of Animal Health doctor determined that the living cattle were suffering from starvation and the dog was suffering from malnourishment. The doctor also indicated that he believed the deceased animals had not been properly disposed of within 24 hours, as required by Indiana Code 15-17-20 and Indiana Code 15-17-18-9.
The deputy spoke with Decker, who said he works third shift. Decker said he owned the cattle and claimed the cattle and dog were fed every day. However, the deputy noted that overgrown vegetation around the barn was not disturbed from being walked on daily.
Decker was booked in the Kosciusko County Jail on Oct. 10, with a $5,250 surety and cash bond.