A Fayetteville attorney has filed a complaint seeking $200,000 from Rodney Kankey, his family and, possibly, others for the care of 116 horses seized from Kankey's farm last December.
Attorney W.H. Taylor filed a complaint in Fulton Circuit Court in behalf of the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and the Humane Society of the United States.
The two animal protection agencies were called to Kankey's farm on Highway 62-412 in Viola on December 7, 2010.
The Fulton County Sheriff's Department requested assistance in evaluating a large number of horses found on the farm without proper food, water or medical care.
After confirming the horses had been neglected for some time and many suffered from illnesses and injuries, the organizations obtained court permission to seize the horses on Dec. 14 and move them to the old Mountain Home Livestock Auction, where an emergency shelter had been established.
After nearly four months at the shelter, the horses were moved in April to a central Arkansas farm, where they are still being cared for by the ASPCA and Humane Society.
According to Taylor's complaint, "Rodney Kankey has refused to either pay for the costs of the care of the horses or to release ownership of the horses so that the Plaintiffs can find new homes where the horses will receive appropriate care and treatment."
As a result, "the Plaintiffs have been forced to spend in excess of Two Hundred Thousand dollars ($200,000) to care for the horses as of the date of the filing of this action (May 4)..."
The court complaint goes on to claim that Rodney Kankey and his family have been "unjustly enriched," as the animal protection organizations have "provided food, water, shelter, veterinary services, care and other services" to the horses.
The court filing asks "for judgement in a sum in excess of $200,000 to be determined at trial for the costs of care of the horses in question..."
Taylor also asks for the right to place a lien against the Kankey's property if full payment of a judgement is not made.
Besides Rodney Kankey, the lawsuit names Kankey's wife, Terry, his daughter and son, Cheyenne and Colton, and his mother and father, Bill and Charlotte, as defendants.
Also named are 1 to 20 "John and Jane Doe Defendants." They are described as "individuals who may be legally responsible for the care of some or all of the horses in question."
On Jan. 28, District Judge Jim Short ruled, following a trial in his courtroom, that the horses were lawfully taken from Kankey's property because they were not being fed or maintained.
Short ordered Kankey to post a $50,000 appeal bond with circuit court by Feb. 10 or ownership and custody of the horses would go to the ASPCA, which would have the right to find homes for the horses.
Kankey's attorney, John Russo, did not file an appeal until Feb. 25 and the required bond has never been posted.
But the ASPCA and Humane Society still do not have the right to place the horses in new homes.
An appeal hearing has been delayed, as has action on criminal charges against Kankey, because of delays in obtaining results of a court ordered mental health evaluation.
Kankey is to appear in court again on June 20, at which time the status of the cases against him will be updated.
Besides the civil suit over horse ownership, Kankey faces criminal animal cruelty charges plus charges of assault, terroristic threatening and illegally owning a firearm.
Kankey is currently free on bond.