Penalize animal abusers
- Prosecuting State's Attorney Nicole Foster,District Judge Gerald Rustad,Sheriff Scott Busching
- United States of America
June 13, 2006
I feel privileged to be the proud owner of a horse and cat. As a North Dakota pet owner, I've made the necessary commitment to provide adequate food, water, shelter, exercise, affection and attention for my pets. I feel that every person who makes the commitment to own a pet should accept the responsibilities that go along with that ownership.
Recently, a woman named Kim Lester from Grenora was charged with two counts of maltreatment of animals, both Class A misdemeanors. Only two counts - even though, according to an article that ran in the Williston Herald, authorities found eight horse carcasses and three dog carcasses in a pasture on the property.
Horses were so hungry they were eating their own feces. Many of the 84 horses, 50 dogs and 30 birds - turkeys and chickens - were confined to a very small space on the 330 acres of property, and had not received food or water for several days. Animal carcasses littered the ground. Chickens drank moldy water. See below.
Deputies uncover dead, neglected animals
By LeAnn Eckroth, Senior Staff Writer
Saturday, June 3, 2006 10:16 PM CDT
Animal carcasses littered the ground.
Horses were so hungry they were eating their own feces.
Dogs were chained up without food or water.
Authorities discovered the grisly scene this week in rural Grenora and arrested a woman for mistreating animals.
Kim Lester, 41, was released on 10 percent cash to apply toward $2,000 bond Friday on two counts of maltreatment of animals, both Class A misdemeanors.
Lester appeared Friday with her attorney Shane Peterson before Northwest District Judge Gerald Rustad on allegations of mistreatment of numerous horses, livestock and dogs on a farmstead about six miles southwest of Grenora.
According to a report released by the Williams County Sheriff's Office, many of the 84 horses, 50 dogs and 30 birds - turkeys and chickens - were confined to a very small space on the 330 acres of property, and had not received food or water for several days.
Rustad ordered Lester to remove all animals from her property within five days, and to notify law enforcement what is being done with the animals and where they are being placed. She must make arrangements for the animals' proper care.
According Williams County Deputy Verlan Kvande, who headed the investigation, 45 livestock, including horses and cows, were penned into a 50-by-60-foot area, and numerous dogs were staked out throughout the property, chained up without food or water or were confined in small animal carriers in other buildings on the farmstead. The other 40 livestock animals were found in an overgrazed pasture.
"There was one 8-by-10-foot shed with the doors and windows closed that had no ventilation," Kvande said. "It had half a dozen chickens and eight dogs in pet carrier cages. There was a horrendous smell of defecation, urination and chickens. There was no food or water for the dogs. There was some water for the chickens, but it was really moldy .... The smell was overpowering."
After receiving numerous reports about conditions of the farmstead from concerned citizens, authorities investigated and found enough probable cause to obtain a search warrant for the farm site.
"There were complaints of dead animals in the pasture and mistreatment of animals," said Kvande.
Executing the search warrant on Thursday, Williams County Sheriff deputies and North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents who investigated the scene reported finding eight horse carcasses and three dog carcasses in a pasture on the property.
Several animals were found to be in a small pen and unable to move around, or placed in small carriers in three structures on the property.
"A veterinarian who accompanied authorities in the investigation confirmed that there was evidence of neglect and malnourishment of the animals, and it was an extended ongoing pattern," said Lt. Earl Innis of the Williams County Sheriff's Office.
Animals also showed signs of possible staff infection, ringworm and sores, said the veterinarian.
Williams County State's Attorney Nicole Foster, who is prosecuting the case, described the farmstead and conditions of the animals a public health hazard.
"The horses were so hungry, they were eating their own feces," said Deputy Verlan Kvande, who headed the probe. "They had automated watering systems, but they had not been turned on."
During the investigation of the property, deputies and law officers tended to the animals, said Innis. They remained on the scene for over three hours.
Lester was also ordered not to board or possess animals while the court case continues, and the court order also includes a search clause of Lester's property that allows authorities to check for other animals.
"To my knowledge, she has made contacts with humane societies around the state to find shelter for the animals," Kvande said.
If convicted, Lester could face a maximum sentence of two years in prison and $4,000 in fines.
Please send a message to these communities and beyond that it is NOT okay to abuse or neglect animals of any kind, in any way. It is not okay to be an irresponsible pet owner. It is not okay to starve animals. It is not okay to keep animals in a room with a lack of ventilation, make them desperate enough to drink moldy water, or make them stand and sleep in their own feces and urine. It is not okay to turn a blind eye and do nothing, and allow these atrocities to continue.
Please teach people that it IS okay to stand up for the rights of pets, and that people can and should be punished for inhumane conditions. A slap on the wrist, minor monetary fine, hours of community service, or days in jail is simply not enough punishment. A monetary fine will not teach people a moral lesson. It will not stop animal cruelty, abuse or neglect.
Please encourage decision makers to give her a lengthy sentence, and give her time to reflect on what she has done. Please do not give her the chance to own another animal. Please do not give her the chance to abuse another pet.
I urge you, along with other pet owners and lovers, to increase the sentence of Ms. Lester. Please consider our petition and signatures, and the severity of Ms. Lester's actions. Animals feel hunger, just the same as you and I. They feel desperation, just the same as you and I. The horses that ate their own feces - they weren't dumb; they were desperate. It was either live or die - and unfortunately, eight didn't make it.
Please help us give a voice to the animals. They cannot speak for themselves. We must speak for them.
The Penalize animal abusers petition to Prosecuting State's Attorney Nicole Foster,District Judge Gerald Rustad,Sheriff Scott Busching was written by Carmen Zimmerman and is in the category Animal Rights at GoPetition.