Case Snapshot
Case ID: 20013
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: horse, other farm animal, goat
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Prosecutor(s): Karla Mae Bosse
Judge(s): James Reynolds

For more information about the Interactive Animal Cruelty Maps, see the map notes.

Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014

County: Broadwater

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Alleged

» Tom Jessberger
» Dalene Rindal

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

No charges have been filed against Tom and Dalene Jessberger, owners of an animal boarding facility near Townsend, but Broadwater County Attorney Karla Mae Bosse is certain they will come soon.

"I'm planning to pursue whatever avenues are available under the law to prosecute this neglect," Bosse said. "Hopefully we're going to have some charges filed within a week."

On Tuesday, authorities seized 28 horses, a donkey and five goats from the Rocky Acres Training and Boarding facility, following complaints about malnourished horses and inadequate facilities for the number of animals being housed there.

The Jessbergers have maintained their innocence, saying they take special care of all the animals at their facility. Some of them are rescue animals, which take time to nurse back to health.

"We have so many people who would be more than happy to write statements in our behalf, people that have been here, volunteered here, and spent time with us and the animals here," Dalene wrote in an email to the Independent Record. "People who have seen how we take care of them on a daily basis. Board members who know how much we feed these horses on a daily basis."

Bosse said that she has been working with sheriff's deputies to obtain and execute a warrant to search the facility. After full veterinary and investigative reports are filed with her office, she plans to take action against Rocky Acres.

When Tory Stephens heard about the animals seized from the facility, he wasn't surprised.

Stephens boarded three of his personal horses at the facility from March 2013 to August 2013, but removed them after their health began to deteriorate, he said.

"I have a thoroughbred mare and her weight was just never being maintained out there, and she's never been a hard keeper," he said.

"I kept trying to get her in with the other horses that they were claiming needed extra hay," Stephens said. "But they kept kicking her out … at the time she was three months pregnant."

When he heard about the animals seized Tuesday, he immediately contacted the Broadwater County Sheriff's office.

Veterinarian Tahnee Szymanski, who examined the animals Tuesday, said she plans to have her full summary of her evaluations to the sheriff's office by Friday morning.

She said she had received complaints about the conditions at Rocky Acres, and commended Broadwater County deputies for taking the lead on procuring the animals.

Case Updates

Thomas Jessberger and Dalene Rindal, operators of Rocky Acres Horse Rescue, made their initial appearances in court before Judge James Reynolds, facing 34 felony counts of cruelty to animals.

In March, Broadwater County Sheriff's Deputies seized 29 horses from Rocky Acres following an investigation spurred by numerous complaints of neglect made by neighbors and former volunteers.

Jessberger and Rindahl are accused failing to provide the animals with sufficient food and water.

Judge Reynolds reviewed the charges the two face and they were read their rights.

Both have been released from the Broadwater County Jail on $10,000 bond.

Broadwater County Attorney Karla May Bosse told the court that her office is also investigating possible fraud charges against Jessberger and Rindal in connection with charitable contributions made to Rocky Acres.

Jessberger's attorney told the court that he is seeking employment as a ranch-hand in Hobson.

The two will return to court May 2nd for arraignment.

The prosecution informed the court today that two of the horses in this case are so sick that they need to be humanely euthanized.

The rest of the animals in this case are continuing to improve.

For the past 40 days, volunteers have been caring for the horses at the Broadwater County Fairgrounds, feeding them twice a day, brushing them, and treating them for lice.

Volunteers tell us that two of the thinnest horses have gained between 150-to-225-pounds.

"But it really tickles me to see the progress made in these horses...since we've had 'em in the 40-days, they have picked up so much," says John Walsh, president of the Broadwater Rodeo Association.

If you would like to help out with this recovery effort, contact the Montana Horse Welfare Council the Montana Horse Sanctuary.
Source: KAJ18 - April 18, 2014
Update posted on Apr 20, 2014 - 1:33AM 


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