Yesterday I wrote about a rancher in Stark County who is facing animal neglect charges. The case caught my eye because law enforcement officials tried to seize the man’s livestock – his very livelihood – without so much as a hearing at which he could defend himself.
On my radio show I interviewed North Dakota Farm Bureau President Daryl Lies and state Representative Luke Simons (R-Dickinson) about the case.
It was pretty revealing.
Lies said the allegations of animal neglect started on social media. Apparently the rancher – Gerald “Gary” Dassinger of Gladstone – hired a manager who took some pictures of the livestock and put them on Facebook. That led people from other states to report the rancher for neglect.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”All livestock producers treat their own animals,” Lies added. “Anyone who self treats and doesn’t seek veterinary care, they could be charged as a felon.”[/mks_pullquote]
People who had never even stepped foot on Mr. Dassinger’s ranch.
Simons said the path these accusations took shows how the current animal cruelty laws are “opening the door for crazy animal activists to make an accusation” and hurt livestock producers.
Lies pointed out that Mr. Dassinger is being charged with “intentional abuse and neglect” of his animals, but explained that what the rancher was doing was trying to self treat some cattle which had been caught out in a blizzard earlier this year. He said the fact that Dassinger can be charged in those circumstances “should scare and worry every livestock producer.”
“All livestock producers treat their own animals,” Lies added. “Anyone who self treats and doesn’t seek veterinary care, they could be charged as a felon.”
“We need to stop treating animals like human beings,” Simons added.
I asked both men what sort of reforms might be needed for the state’s laws to avoid this situation going forward. They said animal owners should get a hearing before any seizure. They said any seized animals should not be dispersed (sold off, etc.) by the state until guilt is established in a court of law.
Here’s the full audio: