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Woman wants sheep back from feedlot as owners decline to comment on investigation

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IDAHO FALLS — The owners of a local feedlot accused of animal abuse and neglect declined to comment about the situation Wednesday when EastIdahoNews.com visited the property.

The large lot off East Kathleen Street near Sage Lakes Golf Course is owned by Roberto and Trinidad Zamora, according to the Bonneville County Assessor’s Office. The feedlot is under investigation after reports of animal abuse were made by neighbors and the Animal Rescue Mission (ARM), a Florida-based animal rights group.

RELATED | Idaho Falls feedlot being investigated for alleged animal abuse and illegal activity

An ARM representative visited the facility Friday and recorded filthy and inhumane conditions. Video shows live animals being stabbed with knives along with goats and pigs being tied around the neck with a rope before being dragged across the property, strangled and cut into. EastIdahoNews.com cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the video.

Two days after the visit, a large fire was reported at the feedlot that took six hours to contain. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

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Idaho Falls Fire Department

Two of the Zamora brothers were working at the property when EastIdahoNews.com visited Wednesday morning. They asked us to stop recording and leave the feedlot. When pressed for a comment, one brother told us to wait at the entrance.

WATCH OUR CONVERSATION WITH THE ZAMORAS IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE

He met us there a short time later with his brother, who told us they do not know why the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, ISDA, USDA or animal control services were at their property last week.

“The Sheriff has a case and you guys can talk to them,” one of the Zamora brothers said.

Local woman wants her sheep back

Debby McCausey also visited the feedlot Wednesday. She raised six sheep from birth for the 4H organization and began looking for a sanctuary last month after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that made it difficult to care for the animals.

McCausey tells EastIdahoNews.com that she posted about the sheep on Facebook saying she wanted to sell them to someone who would properly care for them as they grew older.

According to McCausey, the Zamora brothers reached out to her about the post and said they would purchase the six sheep for $300. One of the brothers came to her house, paid for the animals and left.

“They promised that (the sheep) were coming down here not to be butchered,” McCausey explained. “They were going to live on a pasture for the rest of their lives. He swore that they were just going to graze and eat the ditch banks down. I asked him over and over again if they were going to be butchered because we won’t sell them if they’re going to be butchered. He promised me they weren’t.”

McCausey’s daughter called her Tuesday night after EastIdahoNews.com posted a story about the investigation. She recognized two of her sheep standing in an unsanitary environment in the undercover video from ARM.

“My daughter called me at 10:00 p.m. last night hysterically crying because we sold our sheep to a slaughterhouse,” says McCausey. “It wasn’t supposed to be that way. They were supposed to just be able to live and die peacefully when they were all older, you know?”

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Debby McCausey and her daughters have matching sheep tattoos. | Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com

McCausey and her two daughters have matching tattoos of sheep on their arms. Raising the animals has brought them peace over the years and McCausey was determined to get them back.

She drove to the Zamora’s property and in a recorded conversation, demanded to get her animals back.

“You guys took my sheep and told me that they were going to live happily for the rest of their lives. You’re a slaughterhouse and I want my animals back,” she said.

The Zamora brothers responded that they “had no idea what she was talking about” before telling McCausey to leave and come back with the police. The brothers asked if she has a permit to be on their property, to which she responds, “Do you have a permit to be slaughtering animals?”

McCausey left without her animals but a neighbor invited her to look at the feedlot from her yard where she says she could see four sheep on the property that she believes formerly belonged to her.

“These were sheep that we raised from babies. They’re pets. They all have names and they come to their names and it killed us to even get rid of them,” she says holding back tears.

What’s next?

The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office and Idaho Falls Fire Department continue to investigate the fire, Sgt. Bryan Lovell tells EastIdahoNews.com, and the Idaho State Department of Agriculture is overseeing the investigation into all animal abuse allegations.

“The State Department of Agriculture has an open animal-related investigation at a property on Kathleen Street in Idaho Falls. ISDA doesn’t comment on or provide interviews about open investigations,” a spokeswoman emailed EastIdahoNews.com Tuesday.

McCausey hopes to work with the department and law enforcement to get her sheep back soon.

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