South Dakota horse sanctuary seeks return of seized animals

Farm Forum

LANTRY, S.D. (AP) — The sheriff managing a troubled wild horse sanctuary’s impounded animals in north central South Dakota said horse adoptions must be handled by the embattled sanctuary president.

Dewey County Sheriff Les Mayer has been overseeing the care of 810 horses at the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros’ ranch, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The animals were impounded through a judge’s order in October after a state veterinarian found the horses were being neglected and a former ranch employee said the horses were being starved to death.

Mayer said the society’s president, Karen Sussman, has drafted a comprehensive ranch management plan, seeking the return of 400 horses. Another deadline by the impounding order set for Sussman to prove she has enough funding or feed for the next 18 months has been extended to Dec. 1.

Local prosecutors and the state Animal Industry Board will review Sussman’s plan and determine how many horses are put back in her care.

Any horses not given back to Sussman following the December deadline will be put up for public auction, most likely to buyers for foreign slaughter plants.

Sussman has been reaching out to supporters via email to ask for donations toward a campaign to help return horses to the society’s ranch.

Mainly through the use of social media, a community of wild-horse enthusiasts around the country has been encouraging adoptions of the horses. While others in the online community have called for criminal animal neglect charges against Sussman.

According to Mayer, Sussman has allowed 55 horses to be adopted so far.