LLANO, Texas (KXAN) — A well-known longtime farmer and rancher in the Texas hill country has been arrested and accused of animal cruelty related to both dead and live pigs found on the Schenken Genetics ranch in Llano.
Former Llano city council member, local agriculture teacher and mentor, former bank vice-president and realtor Craig Bauman, 41, turned himself in at the Llano County Jail Thursday morning on two charges of cruelty to livestock animals, a Class A misdemeanor.
In an interview with KXAN Wednesday, Bauman said he has been an “open book” with law enforcement and has nothing to hide. He and his attorney called the situation a “tragic accident.”
According to Bauman’s arrest warrant, a USDA employee discovered a troubling sight on June 15 while conducting a land management survey at the ranch on State Highway 16. He noticed various pig carcasses lying near a hog pen in various states of decay, and inside the pen were more dead pigs and 18 live pigs that appeared to be malnourished with no food or water in sight. He took pictures of their conditions and reported it to the Llano County Sheriff’s Office.
“His main concern was that there were dead pigs in the pen with live pigs,” said Llano County Sheriff Bill Blackburn.
Investigators said they went out and discovered the same scene. They called out a ranger with the Texas and Southwest Cattle Ranchers Association who is familiar with Bauman, along with a local veterinarian. Court documents said the vet told investigators there were too many hogs in the pen, which was 20 feet by 20 feet.
“This is a clear-cut case of negligence,” said Blackburn. “If you have commercial operations with animals you should be expertise enough, you take care of the animals, make sure they have feed, you make sure they have water and you know that it’s a daily operation. If you can’t do it you get somebody else to do it.”
The ranch owner, Dr. Robert Schenken, a San Antonio OB/GYN, told investigators he was not aware of the state of the property or the animals and said Bauman handles all of the animal operations. The Schenken Genetics website says the ranch is operated and maintained by Bauman and his family, and dedicated to raising premier show pigs, cattle, and wildlife using only the best genetics in the industry.
KXAN reached out to Dr. Schenken last week for comment about the case and again today, but has not heard back.
Bauman’s side of the story
Bauman told KXAN there were a large number of dead pigs on the ranch in various states of decay due to two separate situations happening that were unrelated.
He said last winter he picked up about 27 pigs for local children to show and brought them back to the ranch, and then discovered some of them were sick with a disease called shipping fever. He kept them quarantined away from the other animals so the infection wouldn’t spread, and also told investigators he turned some out to pasture.
Bauman said many of the pigs died in a short period of time, and he had not gotten a chance to bury the carcasses once they reached the proper state of decay.
Bauman said up until the week of June 15 he had been feeding, watering and checking on the live pigs on the property every two days when a water line supplying constant water to the pig pen stopped working.
He said it worked on June 10 went he was last out there, and was then alerted it wasn’t working on June 12 when the USDA worker was on the property.
Bauman said about five to six pigs died as a result of the lack of water combined with the extreme heat.
“Immediately I fixed that situation with the waterline, got the hogs re-hydrated,” Bauman said. “It was a completely unforeseen deal, no intentions, nothing was intentionally done to harm the animals. It was just a bad, unforeseen circumstance where the waterline was broken, and the summer heat, it got ‘em.”
Bauman said when he discovered the water problem, he moved the pigs that were split evenly into two large pens to one. He said the county kept the pigs in one pen once they got involved and issued the seizure warrant.
Bauman also said despite the seizure warrant, Llano County never removed the live pigs from the property. He said he continued taking care of them for 35 days until the county took over their care and then decided to put them down.
Sheriff Blackburn said the county’s animal control officer went out there every morning, which is documented with dispatch, and watered and fed the animals every single day because the county didn’t have a facility to hold 18 pigs.
“It’s been pretty heartbreaking,” said Bauman, who also heads up state and local livestock groups, and has worked in the Llano ISD helping children. “I’ve been very well respected and was looked upon, and I’ve helped the youth and even helped the youth in feeding their animals and getting their animals ready for shows, teaching them how to show their animals, how to prep their animals how to care for their animals.”
KXAN Investigator Erin Cargile will have a full on-air story on KXAN News at 6 p.m.