- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

LANTRY, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota officials have taken the first step toward finding new homes for hundreds of wild horses from a troubled sanctuary in the north-central part of the state.

The South Dakota Animal Industry Board authorized their attorney Thursday to seek a court order to transfer horses owned by the nonprofit International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros to the ownership of another suitable caretaker, the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/2iluNZC ) reported.

A public complaint led to the impoundment of more than 800 horses in October at the organization’s ranch near Lantry after a state veterinarian found they were being neglected and a former ranch employee said they were being starved to death.

About 270 horses have since been sold or adopted. The animals are still under the organization’s ownership, but authorities in Dewey and Ziebach counties have been caring for the horses at the expense of the counties’ taxpayers.

While some of the costs have been reimbursed by the nonprofit, public donations and grants, Dewey County State’s Attorney Steve Aberle said an estimated $75,000 remains outstanding.

The remaining costs could be reimbursed if negotiated as part of a transfer of ownership, Aberle said.

A consortium of concerned groups had proposed a deal to take ownership of the horses, find adoptive homes for them and reimburse the counties, but Aberle said the society did not respond to that proposal.

“It’s still a possibility,” Aberle said. “It would be up to them and (subject to) court approval.”

A scheduled public auction of the society’s horses was scheduled earlier this week but authorities postponed it indefinitely. Advocates for wild horses feared an auction would draw bids from foreign slaughter plants.

Society President Karen Sussman previously denied wrongdoing.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com


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