ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – In exchange for a guilty plea in a 2014 animal cruelty case, the former owner of a now-defunct traveling petting zoo was sentenced Friday to probation and jail time – a resolution that animal-rights proponents described as a “huge win.”
Representatives with Wayne-based Hands and Hooves Riding, Rescue and Rehabilitation thanked the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office for making the case against Stacy Fiebelkorn a priority.
“We’re extremely grateful,” founder and president Kelly Owens said. “They really cared.”
Fiebelkorn, 36, was charged in March 2014 after nearly 100 animals in her Mini Zoo Crew were found sick and starving, including a dozen dead. Most were found on a farm in Hampshire, and a mare and fetus were found dead on a farm near Maple Park.
She pleaded guilty to cruel treatment, a Class A misdemeanor. As part of her plea agreement, other charges against her – two counts of violating owner’s duties, a Class B misdemeanor – were dismissed.
Judge Thomas Stanfa accepted her plea at the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles Township.
Fiebelkorn was sentenced to 24 months of probation, 90 days in the Kane County jail with good time to apply and $300 in fines and costs. She must also undergo a psychological evaluation and cannot own or care for animals of any type during her probation.
Laura Van Der Snick, also with Hands and Hooves, hugged other animal-rights proponents outside the courtroom.
“It’s a victory today for animals,” she said, echoing Owens, who called the outcome a "huge win."
Van Der Snick became emotional while talking about the animals she and others outside the courtroom helped rescue. They wiped blood and puss from the creatures, she said, noting she also held one of the dead bodies.
Van Der Snick and Owens said they want animal owners to know that Hands and Hooves offers assistance to those struggling to care for their animals so a case like Fiebelkorn’s doesn’t happen again.
“We’re here to help people,” Owens said.
Visit www.handsandhooves.org for information about the organization.