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Neglected horses set to arrive in Hawley, Minn.

GRAND FORKS -- Between 20 and 30 of the horses rescued recently from neglect on two North Dakota ranches are set to arrive at a Hawley, Minn., facility on Saturday, where they will be adopted by horse owners, trainers and others outraged by the conditions they were left in.

One area horse owner arranged for a 30-horse trailer from Iowa and donated the $3,000 shipping cost to bring the horses from Mandan to Hawley, while others have agreed to adopt and care for the animals.

"We have space on the trailer for 30, but we're only going to put the number on we have people lined up for, and we have about 20 homes so far," said Tracy Tschakert, a dressage rider and trainer in Barnesville, Minn.

"These are lifelong horse people with lots of experience who have offered to take on these horses and give them a really good start," she said.

Late last month, Burleigh and Morton county authorities found 99 dead horses on two ranches operated by a man with homes in New Salem and Fargo.

Sheriff's deputies also found and eventually seized through court action 157 live horses and mules that hadn't been properly cared for.

Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue south of Mandan took in about 25 of the animals in the worst shape and has been caring for them, aided by donations of feed, blankets, money and veterinary services.

Authorities are considering criminal charges in the case. Under current North Dakota law, abuse or neglect of animals is a Class A misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and $2,000 in fines. The Legislature is considering adding a felony penalty to the statutes, but even if passed it could not be applied retroactively.

A district court judge ruled Friday that officials in Morton and Burleigh counties had probable cause to seize the horses and may sell them or give them away.