Horse herd owner charged in North Dakota

Farm Forum

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The owner of a herd of horses that had to be seized because of allegations of improper care was charged on Feb. 15 with five counts of overworking, mistreating or abandoning animals, the Morton County State’s Attorney’s Office said.

The charges against William Kiefer, 63, are in addition to four similar charges filed earlier last week in Burleigh County, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

In both counties, Kiefer is accused of failing to provide necessary food, water and shelter to his horses and donkeys.

One Morton County count is in response to a group of horses and donkeys found dead on a hilltop in the pasture northwest of New Salem, and another count is for animals found dead in a barn, according to the complaint. A third count is for dead animals in a Quonset and nearby trailer, a fourth count is for animals found dead in a hay yard and the fifth count is for all the surviving animals.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department seized 119 live horses and donkeys from Kiefer’s property northwest of New Salem in late January after finding 96 dead animals there. At least three more horses have since died.

The Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department seized 38 horses and donkeys after finding three dead on property in that county.

South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick ruled recently that the sheriff’s departments acted properly and could sell or put up for adoption all of the seized horses.

An affidavit from Morton County Sheriff Dave Shipman said Kiefer admitted that the first animals died on his ranch in September and were taken to a hilltop in the pasture. The sheriff’s department had been responding to welfare checks on animals for several months and brought veterinarians out in December to assess the animals and give feeding recommendations to Kiefer.

At least 20 horses are headed for new homes in the Red River Valley in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota. The horses were set to arrive at a facility in Hawley, Minn., on Feb. 16.