Investigation Clears Grantsville Petting Zoo Of Any Wrongdoing; Owner Files Defamation Lawsuit
Nov 14, 2019, 10:59 PM | Updated: 11:03 pm
GRANTSVILLE, Utah — Officials with the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office said an investigation into a Grantsville petting zoo found no evidence of any wrongdoing and no charges will be filed.
Additionally, a veterinarian visited Ivie Acres Farms during the investigation and also found no evidence of abuse or neglect.
Officials conducted the investigation after Grantsville resident Heidi Jensen posted a video to Facebook last week, saying Ivie Acres Farms was neglecting their animals and illegally dumping carcasses from their petting zoo.
Attorney Joe Cartwright, who is representing Ivie Acres Farms owner Sherrie Ivie, said his client has received threats and had her name and business slandered on social media when the investigation showed her animals have been healthy and properly cared for.
“She is going through the hardest time in her life with it,” Cartwright said during an interview Thursday. “Hopefully this will help her get through it because she was accused of lots of ugly things by this social media mob and making up stuff and really saying some ugly things about her.”
Jensen’s video quickly took off on social media last week with hundreds of comments from people saying something needs to be done against Ivie Acres.
“I took that video and about 30 pictures,” said Jensen during an interview last week outside her Grantsville home. “It’s devastating because how many animals need to die before something is done? They need to lose their business license.”
Tooele County Sheriff’s Office officials investigated Jensen’s claims based on the Facebook video and said the investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing Thursday.
As for the carcasses in that video, just a few of them were Ivie’s, according to Cartwright.
Most belonged to other farmers and ranchers in the area who knew they can use this private property to unload their animals that die.
“They had a contract with their neighbor,” Cartwright said. “He would come and get the animals and was supposed to bury them. He hadn’t buried them yet, so that’s what started it all.”
The animals are now buried, but Ivie’s reputation has taken a big hit on social media.
“She does a lot for the community and loves her animals,” Cartwright said. “The social media, it gets to be dozens and then hundreds of people from all over the country. They hear and see something about a story, and they start repeating and sharing it hundreds and hundreds of times. They have created fake Facebook pages against the petting zoo that pretends to be them and so we filed an action to try and get it stopped.”
Ivie has also filed a defamation lawsuit against Jensen.
During a text message conversation Thursday evening, Jensen said she can’t say much because of the lawsuit, except that it’s for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
However, she also said she doesn’t regret doing what she did because she feels like those animals needed a voice and someone to stick up for them.
For Ivie and her attorney, they’re just glad the investigation cleared Ivie Acres Farms of any wrongdoing.
“The next step is that she needs to dig out from this social media mob that attacked her and put on a good face and try to spread this love of animals she’s got,” Cartwright said.