Reporting Bill Hudson
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One week after 135 horses, dogs, chickens and ducks were taken from a rural Pine county farm, the animals are showing signs of improvement.
Chocolate labs and golden retrievers that appeared underweight and hungry are eating bowls of food and putting on pounds.
On Sept. 12, the animals were seized from their owners after complaints were made about mistreatment and malnourishment to the Pine County Sheriff’s Office.
“The animals were very thin and gaunt,” Chief Deputy Steven Blackwell said.
Blackwell said their office received complaints back in August of animal neglect and cruelty at the farm northeast of Pine City. That prompted an investigation into the farm operated by 86-year-old Gloria Carlson and her daughter, Kathleen Doenz, 54.
Deputies received a search warrant and removed the animals. Blackwell said it appeared they were unfed and thirsty, and were being kept on the farm where nobody lived.
Blackwell calls the conditions the animals lived in “deplorable.”
“There were some dogs in underground type areas, with doors covering them — very little sunlight for them,” Blackwell said.
Authorities seized 12 horses that were starving and living in filthy conditions. Two of those horses were later euthanized due to their poor health. Along with the horses, 21 dogs of various breeds were removed, including two female dogs set to give birth to puppies.
The Pine County Attorney has not issued any charges at this time and is awaiting completion of the investigation. Under Minnesota law, Carlson and Doenz have 10 days to file a request for judicial review of the animals removal.
“We’ve been doing this since 1978,” explained Gloria Carlson as she was at the driveway leading to the rural property.
When asked why the animals were seized and why they appeared unfed, Carlson admitted she and her daughter had run out of food and were awaiting a check from her credit union to purchase more food.
“Wen we got in there they all marched up there with their cars,” she said. “We were just going to go to Hinkley Ag and he said, ‘Don’t take a thing.’ Then they started taking our animals.”
In the meantime, costs to feed and treat all the animals has reached $10,000. The Pine County sheriff is accepting donations to its Posse and Horse fund to defray the expenses.
A decision on adopting the animals will be made on Tuesday, Sept. 24 when the window for a judicial review expires. The dogs are being cared for and will be adopted out by the Pine County Guardian Angel Shelter.
The 12 horses are at the North Ridge Veterinary Service, which will handle their possible adoptions.
“We certainly are thankful to the people who live in the area for paying attention and letting us know this was going on,” Blackwell said.
Kathleen Carlson was put on probation in 2004 for neglecting and mistreating animals. She had been ordered to not own any more.