Johnson County Metro

Iowa City man faces charge in seized bird case

SOLON — An Iowa City man accused of failing to care for hundreds of birds he was keeping on an abandoned rural Solon property now faces criminal charges.

According to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, 70-year-old Francis J. Prohoska faces one count of livestock neglect, a serious misdemeanor.

The criminal complaint in the case states that on Dec. 6, a deputy was contacted by Iowa City Animal Services director Liz Ford, who informed him she had received a report of livestock neglect at 2250 Turner Ave. The report indicated that ducks, geese and chickens were “being deprived of necessary sustenance,” authorities said.

The deputy contacted Prohoska, who owns the property on Turner Avenue, to discuss the reports of neglect, but he did not show up to a scheduled meeting, authorities said. Relying on information from two informants, who described “horrific conditions” on the farmstead, the deputy obtained a warrant for the property.

Authorities said they executed the warrant along with a licensed veterinarian. The veterinarian “determined, that due to the conditions and health of the approximate 200 ducks, geese, chickens, pigeons and other birds/fowl that were on the property, a rescue was needed,” the complaint states.

The deputy also reported finding many bird carcasses and several sick, injured or disabled birds on the property. On Dec. 9, the sheriff’s office and Iowa City Animal Services seized 110 ducks and geese, 76 chickens and 49 pigeons from the property. Ford described it was “one of the worst” hoarding situations she had ever seen.

Ford said Tuesday that the birds have been tested, cleared to be adopted and that process could begin later this week. Ford said she’s already received about 30 applications from people interested in giving the birds a new permanent home. She said there has also been a “wonderful outpouring from the community.” Individuals, farm stores and feed distributors have made donations of feed and straw to help the birds.

“It’s really been quite humbling,” Ford said.

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Prohoska was previously charged with animal neglect, a simple misdemeanor, for an incident that occurred in April 2016. Iowa City police said they were called to the North Dodge Hy-Vee on April 25 for a bad smell coming from a U-Haul van parked in the parking lot. When officers opened the van, they found 62 ducks inside, 19 of which had died.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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