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Authorities investigate possible animal neglect case in Stark County

Authorities in Stark County are investigating a possible case of severe neglect of horses and cattle on land south of Gladstone, Stark County Sheriff Terry Oestreich said.

Veterinarian Kim Brummond, who accompanied the sheriff to the land, said a mare and her foal would have been dead within hours if they had not been rescued and that the conditions of the animals was “deplorable” and that she personally found the situation “emotionally disturbing.”

The sheriff’s office was alerted to the case by a concerned citizen on April 22. Oestreich said he and Brummond, of West Dakota Vet in Dickinson, responded to the call later that day and found a number of horses that were in “quite rough shape.”

Oestreich said the horses were thin, filled with lice and had worms and that the animals may have been in this condition “for quite sometime.” A mare and foal were taken from the property that day because of the severity of their condition, while others were in “too bad of shape to move,” Oestreich said.

“They were some of the worst I’ve seen,” Oestreich said. “(They were) thin and full of lice and worms.”

In addition to the horses, Brummond said there were also many cattle that were not in the best shape. However, the “saving grace” for the cattle is that grass is starting to grow, so there will be a little feed soon, she said.

Brummond said the mare and foal they rescued were in “imminent danger of dying of starvation, water deprivation and neglect.” The mare and foal are currently in the care of West Dakota Vet and are currently doing well, according to Brummond.

“It would be my opinion that if we had not taken the mare and foal they’d have been dead in 36 hours,” she said.

Brummond said there were dead animals that were found closer to the home as well.

“There were piles of dead animals, recently dead animals, dead animals in various stages of decomposition,” she said. “All of the animals are infested with lice and parasites. No feed available. Many animals did not have access to water.”

Brummond said she found the situation to be personally upsetting as well.

“I found it horrendous,” she said.

Oestreich said the department gets calls from time to time about possible cases of animal abuse or neglect, he said quite often the cases end up turning out OK. However, he said this situation may be different.

“These animals were certainly malnourished and needed some more care,” he said.

Oestreich said the department has been checking on the animals’ condition regularly.

The sheriff's office has been in contact with the landowner, as well as the Stark County state’s attorney about the case. The owner is to submit a plan working with his vet on how to intends to medicate and care for the animals.

No arrests have been made and no charges have currently been filed in the case.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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