Jim Keck

Former Sandy Township Zoning Officer Jim Keck is shown in this file photo. 

DuBOIS — Former Sandy Township Zoning and Code Enforcement Officer Jim Keck faces felony animal cruelty charges for allegedly shooting his neighbor’s three cows with bird shot from a shotgun, according to a criminal complaint filed with District Judge Patrick Ford’s office in DuBois.

On March 19, Sandy Township Police charged Keck, 60, 287 Harold Bundy Road, DuBois, with three felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals – causing serious bodily injury or death, and three misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. The charges stem from an incident at 6:53 p.m. March 17 on Harold Bundy Road in the township.

Township Manager Shawn Arbaugh told the Courier Express Thursday that Keck is no longer employed by the township. He worked full-time for the township for more than 25 years and was zoning officer for more than 22 of those years.

“Immediately upon hearing about Mr. Keck’s alleged actions, Sandy Township management conducted a fair, thorough, and expedient administrative investigation into the matter and took necessary actions as a result,” said Arbaugh.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Michael Carlson, 178 Harold Bundy Road in the township, reported that his neighbor, Keck, had shot his cows. Upon arrival, police met with Carlson and his son, Matthew Carlson. At about 4:30 p.m. March 17, Michael Carlson stated that he received a call from his son, who told him that Keck “just shot three of their cows.” Michael Carlson came home to find that three of his younger cows were wounded, two in the rear flank and the third in the ear.

Matthew Carlson told police that he was outside on the front porch when he heard a gunshot coming from the direction of Keck’s house, the affidavit said. He said that he then heard two more shots coming from the same direction and then saw three of their cows limping across the road back inside their fence. He said that he went to check on the cows and saw that two white cows were shot in the rear and the third was shot in the ear. Carlson told police “that all Keck had to do was call him and he would have removed the cows from his property.” He also said that Keck has never said anything to him about his cows getting out of the fence.

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Keck reportedly told officers he did shoot the cows with birdshot from a shotgun “because he was tired of the cows coming into his yard and causing damage,” for several weeks, the affidavit said. He reportedly said “he has tried to be neighborly but Carlson refuses to take care of his fence.” Keck said that he has photos of the cows in his yard and on one day he attempted to scare the cows back home by firing his 9mm pistol into the ground about 11 times to no avail.

On March 18, Keck provided a written statement to township police Chief Kris Kruzelak. In his statement, Keck reportedly admitted to shooting three shots from his shotgun to scare the cows off his property.

On March 19, police received a written statement from veterinarian Ben Wise, who stated that he examined one heifer, one bull and one steer. The heifer was shot with a shotgun and 1 BB was removed from this heifer. Wise said the other BBs will never be able to be removed. Wise also said that it is impossible to determine the number of BB’s present in all three animals and that the animals are unfit as food animals, the affidavit said. He also prescribed antibiotics for the most severely injured animal.

The affidavit said photos were taken of the heifer that sustained the most severe injury and more than 100 BB’s were counted and many others were not. Photos of the other two cows were also taken, which showed they also sustained injury from a shotgun blast.

Keck’s preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. May 8 at Ford’s office.

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