NEW INFORMATION: Eau Claire Co. Board votes in favor of $75K for animal shelter

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)-- UPDATE: Eau Claire County will pay more than $75,000 dollars because of two alleged animal neglect cases.

On a 24-3 vote, the Eau Claire County Board Tuesday night approved reimbursing the Humane Association. The money will come out of the 2013 contingency fund.

Two cases of alleged animal neglect cost the association nearly $78,000 to care for animals involved in the cases.

Eau Claire County could soon be paying more than $75,000, because of two alleged animal neglect cases.

County board members are expected to vote on whether county funds will pay the bill Tuesday, but some members say the county doesn't have a choice.

In July, dog breeder Joseph Sudbrink of Fall Creek was accused of mistreating dogs, and had 27 dogs taken from him to the Eau Claire Humane Association. The dogs were soon returned after the district attorney determined his only violation was operating without a license.

In Nov., about 20 animals were rescued from a Town of Union home. Court records said 44-year-old Teresa Hestekin kept dogs in poor conditions with one found dead, and others with broken bones and open sores. The humane association said it's handled the care of 12 dogs, four cats and two birds ever since.

County board supervisor Jerry Wilkie says the county will have to pay $77,868, after getting a 20 percent discount from the association. But before that happens, a vote is expected Tuesday to approve the payment.

"According to corps counsel, we are obligated, statutorily to pay this bill and yes, we would be in violation of the law and I suspect we would be in court and in the end, would have to pay the bill anyway," Wilkie said.

Two-thirds, or 20 supervisors must approve the spending for it to go through. Last time it failed with 17 voting for it.

"I happen to be an animal lover, but that's really not the relevant issue here. We do have a moral, but we also have a legal obligation to care for abused animals or neglected animals or ones we take into our custody. With that comes an obligation to pay the cost of that. So if you like animals or not, it doesn't matter. Legally, you need to do it."

The humane association wouldn't comment on what it would do if the county doesn't pay the bill.

Hestekin has a court hearing scheduled for next week.

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