Hearing in Horse Case | VideoRetha Colclasure | 2/7/2013
It`s important to note that today`s hearing was a civil case, not a criminal one. Criminal charges have not yet been filed, although they are possible.
Some of the horses seized from Bill Kiefer`s land last week are recovering at a horse rescue in Mandan, where they`re beginning to improve. Before they came to Triple H, they were suffering.
"Would you consider they were being adequately cared for?" asked Assistant Morton County State`s Attorney Jackson Lofgren.
"No," said Alison Smith with Triple H.
"That would be based on lack of feed, lack of care, lack of attention?" Jackson asked.
"Lack of everything, yes," Smith said.
The rescue foundation`s owner was just one of many who testified about the conditions these horses had been in, for more than a month. Dr. Dale Householder is a vet in New Salem. After a complaint, he went to examine the horses in December, when most of them were still ok, but not in great shape.
At that time, there was only about a day`s supply of food for them on the property. He suggested that Kiefer sell some of the horses and put out more food for them.
"He had brought in roughly 350 big round bales and put them inside a corral and locked them so the horses couldn`t get into them," said Deputy Bryan Kirchmeier with the Morton County Sheriff`s Department.
Burleigh County authorities were also receiving complaints about a smaller herd Kiefer had near Menoken.
"There`s no shelter, and also you couldn`t see any reserve food or a water source at that time," said Deputy Wes Christianson with the Burleigh County Sheriff`s Department.
Those horses, now being cared for by a Menoken rancher, each lost 80 to 120 pounds in just three and a half weeks.
"They were basically starving to death and using their body reserves to maintain," said Dr. Jesse Vollmer, the Assistant State Veterinarian.
He says they were rescued just in time, and likely would have died within the week.
Authorities testified it appeared the horses had been eating tree bark and corral wood in an attempt to stay alive.
This morning`s hearing took about two hours. Kiefer was not present. Two others have filed civil lawsuits against Kiefer for not paying for hay.