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Horse assault investigation continues; Owner says mare recovering well at home

More than three weeks after an assault that severely injured her, a 7-year-old mare is back at home in Glendive, Mont., and will most likely make a full recovery.

Meanwhile, a suspect in the crime has yet to be arrested, but officials say the investigation isn't over yet.

As for the mare, there might be some issues with fertility, but she will be able to run and jump and play like before, her owner Gerald Reichert said.

"The veterinarian thought that she would heal up and that would be OK," he said. "We don't plan on breeding her. ... Not that that makes a lot of difference for the crime."

The investigation is ongoing, said Stark County Sheriff's Office Capt. Dean Franchuk, adding that there is some information gathered about the type of vehicle the perpetrator might have been driving.

Reichert is hopeful about the investigation.

"There are lots of details that we're aware of and I think the sheriff's department has done a very good job of investigating it," he said. "We have a lot of things if we could just get on the path of the right person."

The mare is a cutter, Reichert said, making her very prized.

"Whoever did this picked an extremely valuable horse," he said.

The horse will remain in Montana, Reichert said. She was staying at his father-in-law's, Rex Cook, ranch east of Dickinson to keep Cook's lone cutter horse company over the winter, Reichert said.

"Horses do better, just like dogs or anybody else, with a little company," he said.

On the morning of Jan. 17, Cook found the horse in question acting funny, almost as if had been drugged. He made calls to Reichert and the SCSO.

Reichert then took her back to Glendive and to the vet, who said the injuries, while like nothing they have ever seen before, were consistent with a sexual assault.

Abuse can alter a pet's behavior, deputy state veterinarian Dr. Beth Carlson said.

"They might need to be handled or treated a certain fashion to help them recover from those issues," she said.

The North Dakota Animal Health Board gets anywhere from 50 to 130 calls of abuse or neglect each year, but many of them turn out to be cases near the borderline, Carlson said.

"It might be a situation that doesn't look good but actually the animal is being cared for," she said. "The vast majority of the time there are probably issues where maybe animals aren't being fed as much as they should be or maybe the quality of the feed isn't what it should be or animals that don't have the right amount of shelter."

The issues are often things that could be remedied, like a shelter is built for the animal, she said.

There aren't any government programs to assist animal owners, but there may be help available at the local level, Carlson said.

According to North Dakota law, "a person who performs a deviate sexual act with the intent to arouse or gratify his sexual desire is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor."

A Class A misdemeanor is punishable for up to one year's imprisonment, a fine of $2,000, or both.

Cook, along with Dale Hewson and Mike Kelley, are offering a $1,500 reward for the arrest of the assailant.

Information can be conveyed to the SCSO at 701-456-7610.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206