Owner of seized animal ranch appeals awarded damages

Jennifer Petkus awarded money last summer
Owner of seized animal ranch appeals awarded damages

A woman is appealing a federal judge’s decision to lower her award in a trial where she sued Richland County for violating her civil rights in 2009.

Monday marks five years since the Thyme & Sage Ranch was searched by Richland County authorities.

In 2009, police seized hundreds of animals from Jennifer Petkus’ property in Cazenovia. Petkus was found guilty of six misdemeanors, including intentionally mistreating animals. She was sentenced to three years of probation in 2011.

Last year, a federal court awarded Petkus nearly $200,000 in damages. Petkus sued Richland County, accusing the sheriff’s department of violating her civil rights during the 2009 search and seizure.

The federal jury awarded Petkus $133,000 for damage caused to her property and another $60,000 for violating her Fourth Amendment rights.

Petkus’ attorney, Susan Crawford, said on Monday that a federal judge had lowered the jury’s award to $133,000 total.

Crawford said Petkus is in the middle of appealing that ruling, while Richland County is also appealing.

Crawford said attorneys for both sides will appear in front of a panel of three judges for oral arguments next Tuesday. That will take place in Chicago and the appellate court will make a decision later.