Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Jack Tuls, 60

inhumane treatment of dairy cows by owner of The Dutch Touch Dairy

Twin Falls, ID

Twin Falls County

August 2002  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
Misdemeanor 2 drunk driving convictions; domestic assault cows

Convicted

5th District Court

Claims that Jack Tuls mistreated "downers" first surfaced in August 2002 after contractor Michael Cody Prestin sued the Dutch Touch Dairy for nonpayment of debts, and former Dutch Touch office secretary Jo Anderson resigned.

On December 27, 2002, the Times-News filed a public records request with the Idaho Department of Agriculture to obtain inspection reports on the alleged incidents produced by state dairy inspector Tami Frank.

A month later Times-News reporter Jennifer Sandman revealed that criminal charges would not be pursued, “although state investigators say they found evidence of animal cruelty, including burial of a live cow and inhumane treatment of sick and dying cows."

Jack and Tillie Tulsa did, however, pay a fine of $5,000 for improper disposal of dead animals.

Update 2/22/03:  Twin Falls County filed one misdemeanor animal cruelty charge against dairy owner Jack G. Tuls . The charge was brought in connection with a dying cow observed by a state dairy inspector.

The criminal complaint charges Tuls in connection with causing a dairy cow to be cruelly treated by having it "taken out of the hospital barn into an area unprotected from the elements, where the cow was left to die without proper care, water, food and/or without being euthanized in a timely manner." The Idaho Department of Agriculture initiated an animal cruelty investigation in August at Tuls' Dutch Touch Dairy near Filer, Idaho, and turned over its investigation in September to Twin Falls County law enforcement for possible prosecution. The AG's department's investigation said the dairy had subjected sick and dying dairy cows to cruel treatment through handling practices and lack of care.

Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs and Sheriff Wayne Tousley had said they did not have enough evidence to prosecute Tuls in connection with mistreatment of animals on his dairy. A former employee had been identified as a suspect, but his whereabouts are unknown. The sheriff's office has continued to investigate the case, Loebs said.

Based on the continuing investigation, the animal cruelty charge was filed, he said. Tuls and his wife, Tillie, denied any mistreatment of animals on their dairy. "The only way to succeed in the dairy business today is to take very good care of your animals, which is a commitment of the Dutch Touch Dairy," their letter said. But Ag Department investigation records painted a bleak picture at the dairy, with at least two reported instances of people working at the dairy taking matters into their own hands by each shooting a dying cow to put it out of its misery. An unknown number of dead cows were found improperly buried at the dairy.

  (Photo courtesy of Idaho 2 News)

A first animal cruelty conviction in Idaho carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $5,000 fine for each offense. The minimum fine is set at $100. The Tulses have had other legal problems. Jack Tuls faces jail time in connection with a second drunken driving offense.

Court records say on July 19, 2002, his blood-alcohol level was .21 -- about 2.5 times the legal limit. Sentencing is set for the end of the month. Tuls' first drunken driving conviction in Twin Falls County was about a year ago, when he was sentenced to two years of probation, 16 hours of work detail, and any treatment ordered by his probation officer. He served six days in jail and was given a 174-day suspended jail sentence. His sentence included 180 days of suspended driving privileges.

Tuls was convicted of one count of misdemeanor domestic assault. He was given a $300 suspended fine, a 90-day suspended jail sentence and 12 months' probation, and ordered to complete an anger management course and a Walker Center aftercare program. Walker Center is an alcohol treatment center.

Court records say in June 2002, Tillie Tuls reported she had been driving her husband home because he was intoxicated and that he struck her while he was trying to grab the car keys from the ignition.

At least 12 contractors who worked for the Tulses sought payment for their work through the courts since 2001, when the Dutch Touch Dairy opened. Most of those claims were filed from June 2002 through November 2002. The cases were resolved through settlements, payments to the contractors because the Tulses didn't respond, and granting of property of the Tulses' to contractors as collateral until payment, including a Cadillac sports utility vehicle and a Cessna 421 C airplane. Lawsuits over payment were brought by two more contractors in December.

Update 3/13/03:  Jack G. Tuls, 60 has pleaded innocent to one count of animal cruelty.  Tuls has requested a jury trial, court records show. Animal cruelty is a misdemeanor criminal offense under Idaho law.

Under a first-time conviction, it carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $5,000 fine for each offense. The minimum fine is set at $100. A pretrial conference is set for April 8 before 5th District Magistrate Judge Randy Stoker. Tuls and his wife, Tillie, have publicly denied any mistreatment of their dairy animals, but a state Department of Agriculture investigation reported a series of problems at the dairy in August 2002. A criminal complaint filed by the Twin Falls County prosecutor's office charges Jack Tuls in connection with causing a dairy cow to be cruelly treated by having it "taken out of the hospital barn into an area unprotected from the elements, where the cow was left to die without proper care, water, food and/or without being euthanized in a timely manner."

Jack Tuls is serving a 100-day jail sentence after pleading guilty to a second misdemeanor drunken driving conviction.

Court report from 2/27/03:  Jack G. Tuls, 59, of 3477 N. 2900 E., Twin Falls, plead guilty for driving under the influence.  Magistrate Judge Howard Smyser fined Tuls $500 with $300 suspended, ordered him to pay $78.50 in court costs and was sentenced 180 days in jail with 174 suspended.  Tuls received credit for one day served.  Tuls had his driving privileges suspended for 180 days and is on 24 months' probation.  Tuls was ordered to consume no alcohol, submit to alcohol/drug testing, attend alcohol court and must pay a $35 per month probation fee.  Tuls must also do 16 hours' in the sheriff's work detail and complete any treatment/counseling ordered by probation officer.

Update 4/22/03:  Tuls is scheduled for trial on May 7th.  Tuls was granted daytime work release privileges for the remainder of his sentence.  His wife, Tillie asked for his work release privileges in a sworn stamen dated April 3.  She wrote, "I cannot effectively mange the dairy myself."

In her affidavit, Tillie Tuls had written that she needed her husband's help at the dairy after the dairy manager abruptly quite on April 2nd.

The former manager, Joe DeMello said he only left the dairy after Tillie Tuls told DeMello's wife that they may as well leave.  DeMello said he was concerned about the perception that Tillie Tuls' statement ma have left.  I'm a hard-working guy.  I've got 3 children, we want to live here.  We love living here.  We absolutely love it, DeMello said.

Update 5/7/03:  A new owner is operating the former Dutch Touch Dairy, which was the site of an animal cruelty investigation.

New owner John Beukers said that as of May 1st he has taken over operation of the dairy under the new name of Desert View Dairy.

Beukers, who operates the Beukers Dairy No.2 in Jerome, said he bought the former Dutch Touch cows and dairy equipment and is leasing the land with an option to buy.

Twin Falls County Sheriff Wayne Tousley said that Tuls' attorney contacted law enforcement when the dairy sold to notify authorities of the change.  Tuls remains on work release and also is allowed to work at his horse ranch.  The Tulses raise Friesian horses south of Twin Falls.

Update 6/10/03:  Sentencing in the animal cruelty case against Tuls was canceled because the defense want another shot at acquittal or at least a new trial.  Fifth District Magistrate Judge Randy Stoker will hear oral arguments from attorneys.   A hearing date has not been set but could be at least 2 weeks away to give the prosecutors time to prepare.

Update 12/30/09:  California based Animal Legal Defense Fund points out that Idaho law doesn’t allow county prosecutors to bring felony cases for extreme neglect or abandonment of animals. And it doesn’t require veterinarians to report suspected abuse.

Those are reasonable measures that have been proposed before in the Idaho Legislature; they’re on the law books in most other states.

The felony law would be used rarely, and only for willful disregard of the health of domestic animals — in puppy mills, for example, or perhaps in a 2002 Twin Falls County case in which, among other things, a sick cow was buried alive.

Filer dairyman Jack Tuls was sentenced to two years probation and a $500 fine for animal cruelty. The case rested on criminal negligence and Tuls’ responsibility for running the dairy of 2,000 milking cows.

The case against Tuls hinged on whether he could legally be held responsible for the treatment of a cow on his dairy without proof he personally handled or prescribed its care.

In his decision, then-5th District Magistrate Randy Stoker wrote that it was impossible for Tuls to have not noticed a particularly sick cow lying on the ground and in the hot summer sun for at least 24 hours without food, water or shelter.

Stoker also concluded that Tuls had no established practice to humanely dispose of “downer” cows that were alive.

Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs could only charge Tuls with a single count of animal cruelty — a misdemeanor — because no harsher sanction exists under Idaho law.

Reference:

The Times-News